Posts tagged ‘soldiers’

TOWER OF FEAR

The Ivory Tower

Written by Kirstin Pulioff

The Ivory Tower,pic

This is a well written short story set in a dystopian world where fear and repression are the norms of everyday living. The colorful descriptions and lively verbs guide the reader on an adventure in which she will be eager to proceed on course with the heroine, Simone, and at the same time, be terrified of the outcome.

As the story opens, the reader meets two young friends named Simone and Christine, who are on very different social levels in the camp and bear totally opposite personalities. Simone is number 277 because she is an orphan. Sometimes she does not even receive food rations. Christine is number 35; she and her family are considered productive citizens. The army is present to protect the citizens by keeping them in a restricted area which is free from contaminants of a recent disaster. Young children attend school, but begin laboring in the factory as soon as they are old enough. Everyone is prohibited from going near an old rusted tower that lies at the end of the forest.

Simone and Christine are enjoying their last days of freedom before factory assignments. They are playing hide and seek when Simone gets near the fence and spies the tower. Christine urges her to retreat because she gets in trouble and is beaten by her parents when they find out she has been near the edge of the forest. They warn her of the contaminants and punishment for risking disease by going there. A few days later, Simone urges Christine to play hide and seek one more time. Reluctantly, she agrees. Of course the fearless and curious Simone takes off straight to the tower. While Christine waits outside, Simone gains entrance. She finds duplicate pictures of those in the camp and monitors that are spying on its citizens. Soon she hears footsteps and the approach of one of the soldiers. Desperately, she tries to make her escape. He informs her that they are there to “protect all citizens” whether they realize that or not.

Before the close of the story, Christine and her friend are reunited in the hospital, but Simone is wounded and branded. Will she become another dutiful citizen or do further adventures await this young citizen who does not appear willing and able to conform to camp life? Can their friendship survive?

Children ages eight and up, especially those who love dystopian adventures, will surely enjoy this fast paced and well written short story. This reader is already looking forward to a sequel.

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DIFFICULT DECISIONS

Widow of Gettysburg:Heroines behind the Lines Series

Written by Jocelyn Green

widowofgettysburgpic

This is the second book in the heroines behind the lines series. The characters are well developed; you will feel their emotions and the enormous difficulty grappling with the decisions that they were forced to make. Plot lines are mostly well developed; there are many twists and turns that will surprise you. One commonality all the characters face is that they were placed in situations under which they had no control forcing them to make immediate choices and sacrifices. It can be argued that some handled them better than others, but all of them were victims of circumstances they could not control. Historical details are carefully researched and annotated in the bibliography. The book is based on the diaries and writings left behind by women who lived in Gettysburg though the characters are fictional.

The story opens at the end of June, 1863 shortly before the Battle of Gettysburg begins in this quiet town with approximately 2400 residents. Many fled as the troops advanced. Those left behind were mostly women and children. We meet the protagonist Liberty Holloway who is a young nineteen year old widow whose husband died in the Battle of Bull Run two years earlier. Libby is left to run the farm and large house. She has help from Bella Jamison, a freed mulatto slave., who proves to be a true friend in time of need. Liberty never knew her mother; she was raised by a mean aunt who told her that she was an unwanted child.

One day, a stranger who calls himself Johnny, though his real name is Silas Ford, knocks on Liberty’s door asking for something to eat. She knows the soldiers are coming soon. There is something so familiar about him. She will find out that he has a dark secret. Johnny encourages her to stop mourning and start living again. For some strange reason, she feels compelled to listen. While the rest of the town is appalled, she resists them. Her mother in law, Amelia Sanger, arrives with her husband’s body to bury him in the town cemetery next to her  son.. Liberty does not want her to stay, but Amelia insists that she will invest money to help fulfill Liberty’s dream to open a guest house.

Then tragedy strikes. First Confederates overrun the town. Blacks are forced back into slavery. Bella and her friends must hide. Harrison Ford, a reporter, arrives to report on the battle as well as the happenings behind the scenes. He thinks that he recognizes Bella, and suspects that she is hiding something. During the three day battle, the lives of  Gettysburg residents are changed forever. More than 163,000 soldiers and 15,000 animals virtually destroy everything in site. A Confederate doctor seizes Liberty’s home. She makes the decision to stay and becomes a nurse to more than 500 seriously wounded enemy soldiers. Harrison Ford and Bella Jamison find their way back to the Holloway farm as well as Silas and Amelia, but they have experienced turmoil in their personal lives.  Liberty’s property is in shambles. The many twists and turns in the lives of the characters are almost as compelling as the horror and mutilation of the battle.

This is an adult novel, but there is no overt sex or profanity so it would be a valuable resource to young adult students studying the Civil War period and the moral conflict and aftermath engendered by the slavery issue. The writing is well done though a few of the minor characters like Myrtle Henderson are not fully developed. This novel is not one for the faint hearted. You will become fully immersed in the lives of those trapped in the war between brothers.

 

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