A perfect little gem of a book, Across Five Aprils captures the spirit of a close-knit family through the years of the American Civil War. This farming family located in southern Illinois dreads the news that war has broken out. With four boys eligible to fight they know this war is going to have a strong effect upon them. Immediately two of the boys, fired up by thoughts of adventure leave and join. The two older brothers decide to stay home long enough to get that year’s crop in. One brother then leaves for the northern army while the other, after wrestling with his conscience, leaves for the south.
As told though the eyes of the youngest boy, Jethro, the only remaining son left at home, we follow this family through the terrible ups and downs of this war. Looked upon with suspicion by many in the community for having a son who joined the Confederates, they endure insults and learn to live with fear. Only nine at the start of the book, Jethro learns to take on the tasks of a man, while still retaining much of the innocence and wonder of a child.
A classic coming-of-age story set during the Civil War, this is a beautifully written, heart-warming story. Although classed as a YA, I think this book would appeal to anyone with an interest in history, as the author has obviously done a huge amount of research on the Civil War. Based on her own family records, she captures the essence of family life in the 1860’s wonderfully.
maroon_penguin_25 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over
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