Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Molly Roe
As a huge Irish fan (the language, the ideals, etc.) and being a complete research geek when it comes to The Civil War, this book seemed like the absolute perfect match for me. And, thankfully, I wasn’t wrong.
We meet fourteen-year-old Katie McCafferty. This is your typical Irish gal. She is funny, smart, quick-as-a-whip, hard-working, and absolutely loves her family. Her father works in the coal mines of Pennsylvania – Murphy’s Patch, to be exact – east of the Panther Creek Valley. Now, the living is hard in these hills. Coal mining, of course, was never – and still isn’t – an easy or safe job, and her father is soon involved in a mine collapse. The family is devastated. The bread-winner has lost the use of his legs, and Katie’s sisters are too young to help the family. Her mother bakes bread and other foods to sell in order to keep the family on their feet. But the coal company is tough; if you can’t pay the rent, you can’t live in a Company House, so Katie leaves school to work and support her family by being a domestic servant.
She’s friends with many large Irish families, including twins by the name of Dinny and Con. Con is a young man who Katie feels a great deal for, and her family can see her marrying one day. But Con gets himself into something he simply can’t get out of… The war is coming, and once the shot is fired at Fort Sumter, Pennsylvania boys have only a short time before the signs of DRAFT are placed in their town. The hardest part for me about this story is when they told of how the Irish marched into battle, while Americans (Christians, by the way) threw things at them and reviled the immigrants who were about to give up their lives for their country.
Anyway, Con gets mad. He’s sick and tired of his people being treated badly. Why lay down your life for people who don’t even care? Who think of you as second-class citizen? So he joins up with a man who feels that the only way to stop the anger and frustration towards them is to make a war of their own.
Katie, by now, is in a huge home working for a very rich family. She hears the news of the “uprising” that’s about to happen, and dresses herself up in men’s clothes to attend the meetings and try to stop her friend – and perhaps future husband – from getting himself killed.
The politics of the time, the history of how hard the struggle was for many poor families, is absolutely inspirational. The writer did a wonderful job bringing us back to the past, and making us understand that bigotry – in any form – can only harm. I wish we’d learned our lesson by now. For any school or library, this is the book you want the kids to read. I am always so thankful when a writer comes out with a story that teaches something more than “unrequited love with a supernatural being.” Don’t get me wrong, those are fun, too. But this is a great story that will teach something and be fun at the same time. When you take your kids to the library, pull this one off the shelf. You’ll be very glad you did.