Book Review: Dear America: The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow: The Diary of Sarah Nita, A Navajo Girl (New Mexico, 1864) by Ann Turner

sorrowThis is a sad story about the forced relocation and concentration of the Navajo people, who were forced to leave their homes and walk hundreds of miles in the snow, many dying on the way. The book is sad from start to finish. I do remember one scene in which a soldier takes a liking to the main character. Like all of the DA books, it is hard to put down. This was a particularly tragic chapter in American history.

Book Review: Dear America: A Light in the Storm, The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin (Fenwick Island, Delaware 1861) by Karen Hesse

lightstormTaking place during the onset of the Civl War in Delaware, a border state where both Union and Confederate sympathizers dwell among one another, this story follows sixteen-year-old Amelia (“Wickie”) Martin, assistant to her father, an Assistant Light Keeper. Amelia is content with her life and her many chores and duties among family, school, and the lighthouse, but the strong cultural and political differences between her abolitionist father and Southern belle mother begin to drive a devastating, irreconcilable rift between them, casting her father into darkness and her mother to severe illness and misery, eventually leading to their divorce.

On top of being depressing, virtually two thirds is about weather (literally), which became a bit tedious (unless one is interested in the temperature, amount of precipitation, and direction of the wind on Fenwick Island in 1861, information which this book does provide quite liberally). Amelia kindles a potential romance with a young soldier; however, their relationship ends up  being unfruitful.

The author attempts to draw parallels between the two plot lines of light keeping and the Civil War, but they never truly intersect. While we read some of Amelia’s fears and discomfort regarding the civil disagreements and pending war, the war never affects her light-keeping duties and ambitions, which is what her personal story is really centered around. I would recommend this book to lighthouse enthusiasts.

Book Review: Dear America: I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly, The Diary of Patsy, A Freed Girl (Mars Bluff, South Carolina 1865) by Joyce Hansen

i-thought-my-soul-would-rise-and-fly-by-joyce-hansen-on-bookdragon1-800x1155The protagonist of this Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel is Patsy, a freed slave down South after the Civil War, who walks with a limp and stutters. She is believed by most to be simple and dull-minded, but what she lacks in the realms of speech and expression, she makes up for in her rare ability to read and write quite proficiently, which she learned while attending to her former master’s children during their schooling. Though Patsy and the other former slaves are technically free, nothing about their lives and their work has truly changed. Most simply do not know where to go, or are indebted in some way and forced to continue serving the same master. This frustrates the African American community and the author does well in expressing the seeming hopelessness and anticlimax after the Civil War.

Lots of vivid characters, an interesting insight into the politics among servants and the dysfunctional households whom they served. A fairly good read and a satisfying ending.