Title: Turn Homeward, Hannalee
Author: Patricia Beatty
Major Themes: 1800s, Historical Fiction, American Civil War, Confederate Army
Synopsis: A young captive in Indiana who came from the Confederate south longs to return home, but is it possible to travel such a distance safely—and keep her promise?
Want a book set during the America civil war from the Confederate point of view for your eager reader? Turn Homeward, Hannalee is a perfect fit. Join the main character, Hannalee, on a scary and life-altering journey.
When we first join the story, Hannalee—along with several members of her family and several friends are working at a mill producing grey cloth and ropes for the Confederate soldiers. Things soon come to a halt when the Yankee army moves in, capturing the mill hands and setting the mill on fire. Listening as Hannalee recounts the red-hot, choking, smoky air surrounding the mill hands as they sat in the dust waiting makes you feel like you’re there. Finally, as they are taken away from their quiet town in Georgia, you can feel the heartache as they are torn from their families and sent north—all the way to Indiana.
Until I read Turn Homeward, Hannalee at age eleven, I had no idea whatsoever of how it would have been for the people who supported the Confederates. The normal, everyday people who did normal, everyday things—until their worlds where turned topsy-turvy when the Union troops arrived. Joining Hannalee—in her mission to keep her brother and herself together and get them both safely home again—broadened my horizons just a bit more. Learning the Confederate side, so different from what it was like from the Union perspective, gave me a very unique angle on the whole civil war. While this may be not the best book to read on the topic, I still highly recommend it for its easy reading.
WARNING: This book contains some lying. It also has in places in the dialogue words that some may find offensive. There is also, at one place, a description of a battle field (chapter 8, “The Last Day of November”, pg. 136 – 138) that some parents may wish to review.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12
Reading Independently— Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15