Leigh Ann's Civil War by Ann Rinaldi (Published by Harcourt Books, September 28, 2009)
Leigh Ann Conners was eleven years old in the spring of 1861, when the Civil War began. Living in Georgia where her family operated a cotton mill, Leigh Ann had an unusual family life. Her father was unwell and her mother had left the family, leaving her to mainly be raised by her older brothers. This led to the headstrong young girl often having conflicts with her strict older brothers. The war changes everything, however, as over the next three years Leigh Ann must cope with her brothers fighting in a war that is increasingly creeping closer to home.
Three years later, in 1864, the Union Army led by General Sherman arrives in Georgia. Because the family uses the mill to produce cloth for the Confederate army, they are considered enemies of the Union. Leigh Ann's attempts to help only cause further disaster. The mill is burned, and Leigh Ann, her sister, and the other female mill workers are captured and sent north. Because the family uses the mill to produce cloth for the Confederate army, they are considered enemies by the Union army when it arrives in Georgia in 1864. Leigh Ann's attempts to help only cause further disaster. The mill is burned, and Leigh Ann, her sister, and the other female mill workers are captured and sent north. These events force Leigh Ann to grow up and mature as she faces danger and hardship.
Leigh Ann’s Civil War was overall an enjoyable historical fiction read. Ann Rinaldi, as she always does in her historical novels, has taken an event from history and brought it to life. The novel is based on the true story of the female mill workers captured by the Union army, a little-known event from the Civil War that I hadn't known about before reading this book. There were a couple of things I found a bit problematic, however - Leigh Ann’s dysfunctional family history was a bit of a distraction at time from the main story of her experiences during the war, and there were some magical elements thrown in that didn’t really make a lot of sense. While it was not my favorite book by Ann Rinaldi, I would still recommend Leigh Ann’s Civil War to young adult readers who enjoyed other books by Ann Rinaldi or who like historical fiction set during the Civil War.