TITLE: Annie, Between the States
AUTHOR: L. M. Elliot
PUBLICATION: 2004 by Scholastic
The Civil War has broken out and Annie Sinclair’s Virginia home, Hickory Heights, is right in the line of battle. Caught up in the rising conflict, Annie and her mother tend to wounded soldiers while Annie’s older brother, Laurence, enlists in the Confederate cavalry under JEB Stuart. Even Annie’s rambunctious baby brother, Jamie, joins John Mosby, the notorious “Gray Ghost.” Faced with invading armies, Annie is compelled into a riskier role to protect her family and farm. She conceals Confederate soldiers and warns Southern commanders of Union traps, and the flamboyant JEB Stuart dubs her “Lady Liberty.”
Annie’s loyalty is clear until a wounded Union officer is dragged onto her porch. Saved from a bullet by a volume of Keat’s poetry he keeps in his pocket, Thomas Walker startles Annie with his love of verse. After several chance encounters, Annie is surprised by her growing interest in the dark-eyed Northerner as they connect through a shared passion for poetry.
As the war rages on, Annie begins to question some of the values driving Virginia’s involvement. Then tragedy befalls Hickory Heights, and Annie becomes the subject of a shocking accusation. She must confront the largest quandary of all: choosing her own course.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .
I kept seeing this book sitting on the used shelf at a quaint little bookshop that I like to visit. I’m a sucker for historical fiction that takes place during the Civil War, but I kept resisting because I didn’t need another new book to throw on my TBR pile just yet… I can show resistance to the siren call, right? However, sometimes you just want to get a new book and this was only a few dollars. (Excuses, right?)
I found myself enjoying this book as I started reading it. It’s written for a younger audience, but I found no trouble immersing myself into it. I read it mostly before bedtime in the evenings at a chapter or two unless I became interested in what might happen.
I enjoyed how the characters are profoundly touched by the hardships and the tragedies of the war. Our heroine Annie loses her innocence of the gallantry of the cause and just how much her way of life isn’t what she has perceived it to be. From her we learn that women’s work is tending the sick, stretching the food, and waiting. Still at times I felt that the story moved too slowly or jumped around a bit too much. The climax of Annie’s conflicting emotions toward a Yankee soldier don’t even really become an issue until the last 150 pages because Thomas is missing through most of the book once Annie’s mother tends to him after the battle in the novel’s opening chapters. So it’s not without it’s tedious moments where you wonder if a bullet’s going to put an end to Annie’s younger brother of the fiery temper. And it doesn’t end on quite such a happy note either. Yet there is hope for a better tomorrow.
Overall I would say it’s an average book. I know there are a lot of YA readers out there in the blogsphere and for those with an appetite for historical fiction, especially of the Civil War era variety, this book may be something you should check out. For me it’s one of those books that I fail to see a reason to read it more than once, but I’m one who prefers books more like Gone with the Wind and Widow of the South.