Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hearts of Stone by Kathleen Ernst

Author: Kathleen Ernst
ISBN # 0525476865

Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books

First Published: 2006

248 pages

Rating: 7/10

With her father gone to join the Yankee troops and her best friend, Ben, sympathizing with the Confederates, fifteen-year-old Hannah finds her world torn apart by the Civil War. Then her mother suddenly dies. Now responsible for keeping the young family together, Hannah makes the difficult decision to leave
Cumberland Mountain with her brother and sisters, and set out on the long and dangerous journey to Nashville, in search of their only living relative. The quest to reclaim their family leads them into the very heart of the Civil War – and could cost them their lives.

Pitching books about the hardships of war at teenagers and young adults who might prefer the theme to be the excitement and danger of being in the thick of the action, so it’s unusual to find such a touching account of a young girl being forced to grow up very quickly in order to shoulder the burden of bringing up her three siblings as the American Civil War rages around them. Themes of abandonment, betrayal and trust are all central to the plot and the struggle just to survive under the most difficult of circumstances are brought to the fore – war is not glamorous, but dangerous, terrifying and confusing, much like growing up.

The language is almost poetic in places, with what feels like entire passages of evocative description condensed into a few sentences or, in some cases, a few words, to great effect – the reader really feels that they are in the thick of things, surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells experienced by the characters as they undertake an arduous journey.


Post a Comment

<< Home