With its balanced and interesting treatment of the Civil War, The Deep Cut stands out among juvenile titles on this subject, making it a worthy addition to any middle-school fiction collection.
VOYA - Steven Kral
Lonzo Rosson lives in Culpepper, Virginia, during the Civil War. Because he is considered "slow" by most people, he is not eligible to join the Confederate Army as his cousin and uncles do. Spending the war at home, he witnesses events in a town where a constantly moving front line has Union soldiers occupying the town one week and Confederate soldiers recuperating there the next. He experiences the effects the war has on him, his family, and his town. Along the way, he grows up and realizes a basic truth about himself and about life. Spain uses family legends about the Civil War to craft a coming-of-age story, doing an excellent job of capturing the world of Culpepper in the 1860s. Characters deal with issues such as slavery, the causes of the war, loss of life, Union predation in the Culpepper area, and possible starvation, matter-of-factly and accurately. The book falters, however, in its characterization and plotting. Other than Lonzo, most characters feel rather flat, and the reader is somewhat hard pressed to feel for them. The plot is episodic and does not lead to a climax so much as it just stops. Nevertheless the book would appeal to a middle schooler interested in the time frame and presents an excellent look at the Confederate view of the war. It would make a great companion to Irene Hunt's Across Five Aprils (Silver Burdett, 1993).
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Thirteen-year-old Lonzo lives near Culpepper, Virginia, at a time when the Civil War has just begun. Lonzo is a kind hearted boy, one who struggles to learn as well as to connect with his father. As the Civil War touches the lives of Lonzo and his family, he quickly sees all the pain that can come from such struggle. Two uncles who go off to fight for the Confederacy perish. A young cousin runs off to serve and returns home damaged. Yankee soldiers invade his area and Lonzo becomes involved in feelings of anger and confusion. Lonzo also watches one of his relatives lose a number of family members and become overwhelmed by grief and hatred. In the end, Lonzo discovers that there are emotions more powerful than hate and that he has talents far greater than even he ever realized before. This book is a historical novel of depth and value. In this book, Susan Rosson Spain has taken an event from her family's history and transformed it slightly to tell a compelling story. This is a well written novel, one that combines a strong coming-of-age tale with historical accuracy.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Lonzo Rosson, 13, is thought to be "slow" (mentally challenged) and soft by his father. He craves Papa's approval and his actions are always directed to that end. A subplot revolves around the extended Rosson family of Culpeper, VA, and their involvement in the Civil War. When the war begins, Lonzo is too young to fight and doesn't want to as he sees no need to kill, but his two uncles enlist and his cousin runs away to join the Confederate Army. Their departure leaves his widowed Aunt Mariah to run an inn and a small farm by herself. Lonzo is sent to stay with her and help out. The family sees a lot of both armies, and the inn is taken over for officers' quarters by the Union Army. The story covers the war years, and readers see Lonzo maturing, but not changing in his belief that fighting doesn't solve anything. This story illustrates how civilians were involved in the conflict, how families were decimated, and how people valiantly tried, in the midst of it all, to carry on some semblance of a normal life. This story would work well in a group of supplemental or parallel reading choices.-Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
While others in the Virginia town of Culpeper, Va., see glamour and glory as the Civil War begins, Lonzo, at 13, is less enthusiastic. As the war progresses, the boy, considered slow by his shopkeeper father, sees only death, disease, destruction, hunger and danger. He meets bad Union soldiers and good ones. He meets bad Confederate soldiers and good ones. When his Aunt Mariah, who runs an inn, poisons some biscuits for Yankee marauders after she learns of the battlefield death of her sons, he realizes that it will be his grandparents who will eat them and races to the inn through the cut and throws them away. Lonzo is a kindly, hardworking and thoughtful young man as he grows over the years of the war. Told in the first person, he rises from the page as a believable and admirable character in a different story of that war. A fast read that should hold readers in its fair presentation of one of the tragedies of U.S. history. (Historical fiction. 5-8)