HERE AND THEN by George Ella Lyon


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An oblique look at war as seen by a seventh-grader who, unlike her Civil War-buff parents, comes to understand that its evils are real. At a reenactment the three attend, Abby plays the part of 40-year-old Eliza Hoskins, ""the Angel of Camp Robinson."" To imagine herself into the role, Abby begins a diary in nurse Eliza's voice. But the determined Eliza's own words, reporting her desperate need for supplies, appear in Abby's hand -- and this unsettling phenomenon persists back at home. Abby and friend Harper (posing as girl scouts collecting for hurricane relief) collect money for blankets and bandages, which Abby then buses to the Kentucky homestead where she first encountered Eliza. Lyon (Mama is a Miner, p. 1133, etc.; Five Live Bongos, see above) extends ideas she's explored in previous books. As Abby's Dad proclaims, ""History is not part of anything. Everything is part of history."" Abby's vivid experience of Eliza is evanescent and multilayered -- she knows Eliza's voice, glimpses her, discusses her with a soldier she later learns died in 1905, and even sometimes becomes Eliza -- yet all that she learns is hardly more than she gleans from the meager historical record, enhanced by her own empathy. Lyrical and beautifully crafted.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Orchard