AMELIA'S WAR by Ann Rinaldi


Age Range: 10 - 15
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Rinaldi (My Heart is on the Ground, p. 228, etc.) makes character count in a rousing novel that is more than a portrait of a town and a people divided during the Civil War. The nucleus of the story is based on the little-known 1864 incident in Hagerstown, Maryland, when Confederate General John McCausland demanded $200,000 ransom from the town, threatening otherwise to burn it to the ground. Although the author places this incident at the end of the story, she prepares readers by creating in Amelia a vivacious small-town heroine determined to ameliorate a wrongdoing. When the result of her actions has dire consequences for her close friend, Josh, Amelia stoically decides not to take a stand in the war. At the same time, she can’t ignore her strong feelings about right and wrong and the evils of slavery. When her brother runs off to fight, and a neighbor cuts off her hair in order to impersonate a soldier, Amelia slowly comes to accept that she must make a contribution; she leaps on the opportunity, serendipitously presented, to single-handedly save the town. Rinaldi captures the complicated relationships of friends and neighbors who must co-exist, despite their opposing stances on the war. Skirmishes and battles, Rebel soldiers and renegades—these seesaw dramatically through the story as the war gets closer to Hagerstown, yet the author shows real art in the creation of believable characters who emerge from such sensational times; she mines the small truths of the heart against a large and vivid backdrop. (bibliography) (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-590-11744-0
Page count: 265pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1999