Private Cathay's Secret depicts the determination and perseverance of a young slave girl, Cathay Williams. Thrust from her home on a Missouri plantation, she becomes a cook for the Union Army. Little does she realize this servitude throughout much of the Civil War will prepare her for her greatest challenge: impersonating a male soldier in the U.S. Army at the end of the war. Alongside her male companions, Williams endures hardships and performs her duties with them equally, during a time when women are not allowed to serve in the military. No one discovers her gender until she reveals it at the time of her discharge.
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About the Author
Rebecca Hayes grew up in East Orange, NJ, the daughter of an elementary school teacher and a Baptist misister. As a teacher, Hayes taught homeless children in a county shelter. She also taughte first through third grades and science and math in Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ. After retiring,she taught on the Salt River Maricopa-Pima Reservation in Scottsdale, AZ. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers znd Illustrators, she now resides in a suburb of Philadelphia, PA.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Private Cathay's Secret based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
It's not uncommon to run across a book that allows readers to escape into the slavery era, as well as the Civil War era. But what makes Private Cathay's Secret a real treat is that the main character plays a major role in both. This book is an enlightening read, and a wonderful contribution to African American history. Right away, Cathay draws you into her life with her daring personality and her yearning for adventure. I appreciate how the author divided each major period of Cathay's life into three separate parts, gradually unfolding her transformation from slave to soldier. Although Cathay is a slave, no bonds can claim her carefree spirit and ambition for exploration outside of plantation life. Mundane housework and cooking never interested Cathay, but somehow these tasks become her ticket to freedom. Private Cathay's Secret offers a unique take on former slaves' involvement in the Civil War, in that it captures the perspective of a female who impersonates a male soldier. All the ingredients in this novel cook up an interesting, informative, and courageous journey of one of America's unsung heroines. I would recommend this book for schools, homeschoolers, and libraries, as well as personal home libraries. It adds a nice spice to the rich African American history that has been recorded down through the years.