My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi (published by Harcourt, May 4, 2009)
Thirteen-year-old Claire Louise Corbet, living in Vicksburg, Mississippi in the spring of 1863, struggles with the many changes the Civil War has brought to her family and her life. Her beloved older brother Landon has joined the Union Army as a doctor, leaving the Corbet family with divided loyalties - they still love him, but support the Confederate cause. Her father, also a doctor, has joined the Confederate Army. And when Vicksburg comes under siege by the Union Army, Claire Louise, her little brother James, their mother, and their household servants must leave their comfortable house to live in a cave.
Soon after, Claire Louise finds her loyalties further divided. Her brother, whom she hasn’t seen in many months, has returned to Vicksburg to care for wounded soldiers. He brings with him Robert, a wounded Confederate soldier. Landon confides in Claire Louise that Robert is a Confederate officer that was responsible for an order from General Lee that fell into Union hands, leading to a terrible Confederate defeat. Though Robert insists the order was lost accidentally, Landon feels compelled to turn him in. Now Claire Louise is forced to choose between her brother and helping Robert, which she feels is right in her heart.
I have loved most of the books I've read by Ann Rinaldi, so I really wanted to like this one as well. But in the end, I thought it was just okay, and nothing more. For starters, it was really at least a bit too short, and was missing a lot of backstory and explanation - why did Landon join the Union Army? Why was he so readily accepted back in Vicksburg after betraying his Confederate neighbors to help the enemy? The character of Claire Louise herself was inconsistent at times as well, sometimes acting very immature for her age and other times making adult decisions. My Vicksburg isn’t a terrible book, but it was disappointing compared to the author's other books. Readers who already love Ann Rinaldi’s books will likely find it an enjoyable enough way to spend a couple of hours. But for those readers looking for a really good novel about the Civil War, or who are new to this author’s books, there are much better books out there, including several others about the Civil War by Ann Rinaldi herself that I thought were much better than this book.