The Shiloh Renewal

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Two teenage girls, sisters a year apart, are in a terrible auto accident near where they live, a few miles from the Civil War battlefield at Shiloh. The older is killed outright. The younger is badly brain-damaged. In a coma, she meets people who are dressed oddly, who speak English but not quite the English she speaks. Eventually she comes out of the coma, but continues to see and talk with these people whom the reader soon identifies as doctors, nurses, and soldiers- Northern and Southern- who are on their way ...

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Overview

Two teenage girls, sisters a year apart, are in a terrible auto accident near where they live, a few miles from the Civil War battlefield at Shiloh. The older is killed outright. The younger is badly brain-damaged. In a coma, she meets people who are dressed oddly, who speak English but not quite the English she speaks. Eventually she comes out of the coma, but continues to see and talk with these people whom the reader soon identifies as doctors, nurses, and soldiers- Northern and Southern- who are on their way to Shiloh to fight a great Civil War battle. The girl is befriending people of the last century who are soon to die. As fascinating as these occurrences are, they are associated with the girl's refusal to accept the death of her sister. Indeed, her doctors expect the girl herself to die of her own injuries. But she fools everybody, and by witnessing the deaths of her Civil War-era friends she is able to come to terms with the loss of her sister.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Janet Mura
Brain trauma is the focus of this very poignant story that takes place on a rather small farm near Shiloh National Park in Tennessee. The reader sees life through the eyes and mind of Sandy, who would have been a high school senior in the fall. She is often in trouble, often angry, and is now both mentally and physically damaged due to the horrific automobile accident that also killed her older sister. Sandy's father has walked out on the family, leaving her mother to work the farm and try to cope with Sandy. Penny was Sandy's hero and best friend, the "perfect" daughter, and Sandy cannot accept her death. Sandy's fight to live, get better, and work out her problems is sad, funny, and brave. The reader feels her anxiety-especially when she knows she forgets, gets sidetracked, and is not as smart as she used to be. The book is slow-as is brain trauma recovery; each day is a struggle to remember and relearn life's basic skills. The Civil War becomes Sandy's alternate reality and is symbolic of her struggle, the death and hardships, and finally the redemption of life. When Sandy's kitten dies, she takes her to Shiloh and gives the kitten to one of the soldiers. The kitten wakes up and begins to purr. At Shiloh, Sandy meets two park rangers who become very important in her life. The reader sees almost nothing of what Sandy's life was before the accident-friends, school, and a social life are not mentioned-but the writing is evocative and pulses with hurt, pain, and hope. This well-written story will need booktalking and some pushing: it is not for everyone, but could create wonderful discussions about people who are different mentally and physically. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Kirkus Reviews
A brain-damaged teenager struggles to reconstruct herself and her shattered world in an electrifying first-person narrative. After an auto accident, Sandy awakens next to the gurney on which her sister Penny's body rests. The nurses express surprise that she's alive; the doctor holds out no hope either, and Sandy, after a brief stay in Intensive Care, is sent home to die. Against all odds, she hangs on; in the hallucinatory company of Penny, plus a series of Civil War soldiers converging on nearby Shiloh, Sandy slowly learns to walk and talk again, to find accommodations with her uncooperative, badly injured body, to reach through the constant pain and noise in her head. She describes her progress with unimpaired intelligence; in a measured, almost detached tone that will grip readers from the outset Sandy recounts victories and defeats in her battle against the "terrorists" and "mischievous voices, disobedient beasts and broken machines" in her brain. She notes external signs of her internal healing: Random jumbles of letters become understandable words again; she takes ever longer rambles about the farm; she refuses to take the strong tranquilizers the doctor has prescribed; and she accepts that Penny is gone. Woodruff fits Sandy with a distinct, individual voice, a past life of which, heartrendingly, she recalls only traces, and a strong supporting cast led by her sad, loving mother. A powerful, extraordinary story. (Fiction. 12-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780930773502
  • Publisher: Black Heron Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.82 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2013

    I did not expect this book to be inexplicably absorbing. There i

    I did not expect this book to be inexplicably absorbing. There is a lot of emotional and psychological conflict, resulting from the primary character's serious injuries. Woodruff's use fo the Civil War to demonstrate the trauma to not only the primary character, but to all whose lives touch hers, is why this book got a star rating from Kirkus. I am a fan.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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