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Hearts of Stone

Author: Kathleen Ernst

ISBN: 0-525-47686-5

 

Occasionally, you find a book so captivating that you read it in one sitting. Hearts of Stone is one of those books—I literally didn’t put it down until I finished it.

At just fifteen, Hannah Cameron finds herself the head of her family. It’s 1861 and Hannah’s life on Cumberland Mountain (Tennessee) has changed forever. Her father, a Union soldier, is already dead—sacrificed to the civil war. Her mother is dead—a victim of a weak heart and too much work. When the neighbors plan to split the Cameron children between several farm families, Hannah says no thank you and takes fate into her own hands. She leads her younger brother and sisters through the mountains to Nashville. Her aunt lives there and surely, she’ll take them in and keep them together, as a family. Of course, that’s not what happens.

Over the next several months, the turmoil of the Civil War throws everything it can at Hannah—starvation, homelessness, abuse, crime, terrorism, and more. However, the story is Hannah’s struggle to keep her family and alive and together—it is not a story about the Civil War. The war is just a backdrop. Author Kathleen Ernst expertly spins Hannah’s coming of age during difficult times, but Hannah’s story would work in any time period. The war simply serves as the catalyst that stirs up the troubles that torment Hannah.

Hannah’s story is often tragic—just like life. Through it all, Hannah remains true to herself and to the principles passed down to her by her parents. Although tempted, she never forgets where she comes from and what really matters. Ernst’s Hannah is real enough to be inspiration without being preachy or pretentious. She’s just a young girl struggling to survive.

This book is a girl’s story, don’t give it to a boy, and expect him to enjoy it. However, girls from pre-teens to grandmothers will love it.

The above review was contributed by: Susan Sales Harkins:  Software consultant and the author of several articles and books on database technologies. She and her husband, William, collaborate on children's non-fiction. Click Here to read more of Susan’s Reviews

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