A female Civil War soldier is brought alive for readers.
Though 19 years old, Frank Thompson is rejected the first time he tries to join the Union Army: He looks too young. Three months later, the conscriptors aren't so picky, and Frank signs on as a "nurse," a mostly untrained orderly who pulls injured soldiers off battlefields, holds them down during amputations and writes to their loved ones if they die. With his stamina, determination and genuinely caring nature, Frank excels, and he is soon given riskier duties: first, postmaster, responsible for carrying mail to the front lines; second, spy, where Frank proves a master at disguise. And no wonder: Frank is a woman. Sarah Edmonds, Canadian by birth, first passed for a boy to escape her abusive father and an arranged marriage; after the war, she became the only female to receive a soldiers' pension. Moss' moving first-person narration, based largely on Edmonds' own autobiography and other first-person documents, shows Frank gradually finding in her war comrades the close-knit and loving family she never had, while becoming increasingly valued for her courage and compassion. Moss convincingly but never gratuitously portrays the gore, horror and boredom of war.
An intimate look at a soldier's life from a compelling, historical perspective. (author's note, thumbnail biographies, timeline, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)