Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book review: Dear America: When Will This Cruel War Be Over? by Barry Denenberg

Dear America: When Will This Cruel War Be Over? by Barry Denenberg (New edition published by Scholastic, April 1, 2011; originally published in 1996)

Born into a wealthy Southern family that owned a large plantation, Emma Simpson had a carefree life until the Civil War began. But then the war changed her life forevr. Her father, brother, uncle, and the young man she loves go off to war, and her brother and uncle died. Emma thought the hardships of war would be mostly suffered by the soldiers on the battlefield, but she was wrong and now life on their plantation has become very difficult.

First, there are rumors that the slaves Emma always thought were faithful to her family plan to run away. Deserters from both sides raid the farm, stealing the food Emma, her mother, and her aunt and cousin, who have come to stay for the remainder of the war, need in order to survive. And when her already frail mother becomes desperatley ill, and soon dies, Emma has only her aunt and cousin to turn to. But things become even worse when Yankees invade the peaceful countryside and take over Emma's house to use as headquarters. Confined to an upstairs room, Emma has now lost the one thing left of her life before the war. But she is determined to never give up and wait for the day her father and sweetheart will return home to her.

When Will This Cruel War Be Over? was one of the first Dear America books I read from the series back in 1996. It wasn't one of my favorites, maybe because it was so bleak and depressing and there were few happy moments. The book does show very realistically how life would have changed for a wealthy Southern girl during the Civil War. As I said, this wasn't one of my favorite Dear America books, so I'd recommend this book to readers who already enjoy the series, if you are new to the series I'd probably recommend starting with one of the other books, unless you are really interested in the Civil War.

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