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Posted October 17, 2010
We bought this Civil War juvenile historical fiction novel set in Missouri at the U. S. Grant National Historical Site when we lived in St. Louis. It tells the story of thirteen-year-old Jacob Knight, whose family farm in central Missouri was bushwhacked by Southern sympathizers in the fall of 1861. With his parents missing, he and his sister Eliza headed north for relatives in Iowa, but Eliza became sick and they had to stop at the cabin of Maggie Canady in northern Missouri and stayed with her through the winter.
Unfortunately, though Maggie is a Union woman, her husband Clem has turned "secesh" because someone lied about him to Northern troops and they mistreated him, so he went away to join the bushwhackers. While Jacob appreciated Maggie's kindness, his hatred toward all bushwhackers festered so that when Clem returned and took a loyalty oath to the Union, Jacob still joined in a plot to get revenge. However, when he saw what people were going to do to the husband of the woman who was so kind to him, his whole attitude changed and he helped to save him, although Clem eventually left to join the Southern army and was killed in the battle of Pea Ridge. In the end, the Knights are reunited.
There were a few things about the book that I did not like, especially since it is identified as "juvenile" fiction. The words "God" and "Lord" are used in ways that are questionable at best, and there are three actual curse words found. Also, Maggie's mother smokes a pipe. Since we did this as a family read aloud, I was able to edit the offending items out. However, in spite of these things, my general feeling about the book is positive. Jacob learns the important lesson that personal revenge is never a good motive and causes more problems than anything else.
Posted September 1, 2009
This was a mandatory summer reading. This gripping, fast-paced story made you feel like it was the civil war all over again. Thirteen-year-old Jacob Knight returns from the cornfield one day to find bushwhackers terrorizing his family. At the insistence of his mother, Jacob and his seven year old sister, Eliza, flee the house for safety. When the two young people dare to return home the following morning, their family is nowhere to be found and their home is burnt to the ground. Hoping that the rest of their family survived, Jacob and Eliza take the family's one remaining horse and journey north, toward their aunt's home in Iowa in hopes of finding their family along the way. After traveling for several days, the children are befriended and given shelter by a kind young mother, Maggie, who was left by her husband, a bushwhacker. The children stay with Maggie throughout the winter, helping her with the farm chores, and with her infant son. The new "family" is growing comfortable with each other until a ragged stranger enters their lives. Who is this man? What will he do to Jacob and Eliza? Will the children ever find out if their family survived?Thirteen year old Jacob experiences manhood very early.Jacob's struggle with his own emotions and his ultimate realization that violence begets more violence is both realistic and believable and one that readers will have no difficulty understanding.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2001
Wow! Garrity makes the Civil War come alive, from the view point of the kids and wife left behind. If you want your kids (or teen) to read, or learn history in a fun way, get them this one. Better yet, read it to them yourself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.