Critical Reviews: Crossroads at Gettysburg

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craglargeThe “Young Heroes of America” series follows the families of three Irish brothers who in 1846 had immigrated to the United States in the years leading up to and during the American Civil War. Fifteen-year-old Mary Adams and her friend Lynn Jones are living near Philadelphia and helping in the Northern war effort, but Mary has been very sick with a fever. Her fourteen-year-old brother Thomas, their uncle Robert, their cousins Zachary, Joshua, and Ethan, and Lynn’s twin brother Daniel are all fighting for the Union. Another cousin, fifteen-year-old George Adams, is fighting for the Confederacy under Major General George E. Pickett.

In the summer of 1863, Southern commander Robert E. Lee decides to take the war into Yankee territory, and a huge battle ensues at Gettysburg, PA. Will Thomas and George actually fight each other? And what will happen to each of them? Of course, everyone knows what happened generally at Gettysburg, but it is interesting to see how it plays out in the lives of the Adams family. Parents who are concerned about language issues will want to know that in addition to a few common euphemisms (heck, darn, crap), there are some cursing (various forms of the “d” and “h” words) and profanity (“My God” and “O Lord” used as interjections). Also, some of the descriptions of battle scenes are rather intense, especially for sensitive people.

For these reasons, even though the books are recommended for ages nine and up, I would personally suggest ages thirteen and up. However, if you are looking for a very realistic series about the Civil War that does a good job of presenting both sides of the conflict, the “Young Heroes of America” books will fill that bill. Books Seven through Ten will be available soon. Book #7, Breaking the Rules, will be about a free black friend of George’s who wants to join the Union army along with some of his pals. The others will deal with Sherman’s march to the sea, how the South suffered and their attitudes in defeat, the assassination of Lincoln, the reconstruction period, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. - Wayne S. Walker – the Vine Voice

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