IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE by Ann Rinaldi

IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE

Age Range: 12 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 By an extraordinary quirk, the McLean family entertained Confederates at their Manassas home just before the battle of Bull Run--and also hosted the peace negotiations at Appomattox, where they had moved to escape the war. Staying close to documented facts, as detailed in an excellent note, Rinaldi uses the McLeans' lives to dramatize the war's moral dilemmas. From his marriage in 1852, Will McLean has an uneasy relationship with his feisty seven-year-old stepdaughter Osceola (``Oscie''), the narrator; though she loves and respects the northern governess Will hires, and absorbs many of her ideas, Oscie is uneasy with Will's progressive stance toward slavery and, later, with his profiteering. Some of Rinaldi's inventions are unevenly developed--Oscie's long-held suspicions of one slave (dispelled when she understands her true story); a couple of romances typical of the era--though they do fill out the story. The most compelling relationship is between Oscie and Will, strong-minded characters, often opposed, whose mutual respect turns believably into a father-daughter bond, touchingly acknowledged in the last scene. Meanwhile, the author skillfully weaves history into her story--offstage battles, resentment against profiteers, a remarkable depiction of the northern generals taking the McLeans' furniture as memorabilia of Lee's surrender. Despite some weaknesses (Oscie at seven is unbelievably mature, and there's a 20th-century feel to some of the dialogue): a sweeping, dramatic overview of the war, authentic and compelling. Bibliography; chronology. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-590-44730-0
Page count: 324pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993




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