Amelia’s War, by Ann Rinaldi
I just finished this book yesterday…was reading it to see if it would be appropriate for my 9.5yr old daughter and I had a hard time putting it down! I cannot express enough how wonderful this book is! I did decide my daughter isn’t ready to read it yet, as she has no knowledge currently on the Civil War (we’re still studying ancient and medieval times and haven’t yet gotten to American history beyond the native cultures), and I really think she’ll get more out of this book if she has at least a basic knowledge of that war and the times surrounding it.
For me, as a product of the public school system, it was like learning the Civil War for the first time. I did have a tiny bit of knowledge on the war and what it was at least about and the time period…but very limited. I found that reading this book helped me to better understand what that war was for the people who lived it. In particular, I stumbled over the terminology of the different sides: Union vs Confederate, Yankees vs Rebels, Southerners vs Northerners…And this book helped me to clear up my confusion and finally make clear in my mind who was what side and what they stood for…and especially to finally understand what they mean when you always hear about how this war divided up not only the whole country but neighbors and even individual families!
The book takes place through the eyes of 13yr old Amelia, who happens to live in one of the towns that suffered much from both sides of the war regularly coming through their town and even actual fighting happening on their streets! You see firsthand what it means to be from an area where people you grew up with were on opposite sides of this war.
At the end of the book, the author writes how much of the book was based on real events and what parts she embellished. It makes it very clear and really impressed me how much was true to history.
If you want your child to get a very good first-hand-account view of the Civil War, this is the book! Be warned that there are violent images in the book…most likely less than what really happened there, but they are in there. So keep that in mind when choosing whether or not this book is appropriate for your child. I do recommend reading it first to determine this for sure.
For an interesting account of the flags used in this war (something that I researched myself as I finally realized, after reading this book, that using a Confederate flag for decor could have a negative connotation…something I never understood before.)…check out this site that details the flags and how they evolved through the war.
“Amelia’s War” has made me want to dive deeper into learning about the Civil War, and I suspect it will do the same for anyone reading it!