During the Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi, which lasts for 47 days, the Union Army with General Ulysses S. Grant lays siege to the town, while residents live in caves. Thirteen-year-old Claire Louise Corbett is the daughter of a strict doctor and Confederate officer, but is also the sister of a doctor and Union officer.
Life is confusing at best, as Claire Louise, her mother, her five-year-old brother and some servants begin living in a cave near her house. But it seems very far from her elegant Southern home with wallpaper sent from England. Understandably, there are moments when she cannot stand life in the cave. The shelling of the cannons stops for only three hours each day, and Claire Louise uses these opportunities to escape for walks and collect blackberries. During one of these trips, she comes across her Union brother Landon, along with his Confederate friend Robert.
Robert is ill, and Landon has been taking care of him. But Robert is wanted by both sides for his involvement in a previous battle. Claire Louise knows that Landon’s honor will make him choose to turn Robert in, but is also aware that she is likely the only person who can help the young man escape with his life.
Claire Louise has always been close to Landon, helping him with patients and going to him when her father was too strict with her. She knows this will put her at odds with him, maybe forever. But in her eyes, Robert deserves a chance, and she determines to help him. For her and for Robert, it is a life and death decision.
She does what she feels she must do and faces harsh consequences as a result. The situation forces her to grow up, but it also helps her better understand her father and her older brother.
Award-winning author Ann Rinaldi brings readers right into the Civil War with her well-crafted historical setting and offers flawed but lovable characters. Claire Louise and Landon both make some mistakes in the midst of a terrible situation. Does she do the right thing? What happens after the war? Rinaldi invites readers to decide and predict for themselves in this compelling, dramatic tale from United States history.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on October 18, 2011
- Publication Date: May 4, 2009
- Genres: Historical Fiction
- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Graphia
- ISBN-10: 0152066241
- ISBN-13: 9780152066246