Author: Barry Denenberg
My Goodreads Rating: ♥♥♥
This has to be one of my hardest books to review since the book is less than 135 pages without the historical notes so I will try to be as spoiler-free as possible. Just like most of the stories in this series, this is the journal of Emma Simpson who lives at the peak of the American Civil War fought between 1861-1865. Emma has a privileged upbringing and tries to come to terms with the death of her father and other male friends and family members as well as accommodating her extended family when necessities become scarce. Emma enjoys reading and I loved her references to Jane Eyre and of course this coming of age story would not be complete without some form of romance.
Emma’s family lives in the South where slavery was the backbone of the American economy at the time as some of the white majority believed the black people were biologically inferior and needed to be taken care of. However, the people in the Northern parts supported the abolitionist movement. The election of Abraham Lincoln who advocated for the union of the American states and the end of the slavery exacerbated the division of the country into Confederates and the Unionists (Yankees who supported the abolitionists).
Though this book has been written by a male author, he has done a good job of voicing the fears of a teenage girl during the war. One of the reasons why I love this series is because of the additional material at the end of the book that definitely illuminated the circumstances under which people may have lived during those times. It is interesting to think that though America is a fairly calm country, it’s continuous growing pains which are still quite evident today till 2015-6. This book is targeted to early teens but I felt that it would also be a wonderful introduction for someone interested in early American history and does not anything that is not too complicated.
If you interested in a more adult take on the civil war and slave abolition, you can try Sue Monk Kidd’s well-researched and beautifully written The Invention of Wings.
Have you read any books from the Dear America series? Which one is your favourite? Which books would you recommend on the American Civil War for a beginner?
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