Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
The year is 1861. Civil war is imminent and Tilly Pruitt's brother, Noah, is eager to go and fight on the side of the North. With her father long gone, Tilly, her sister, and their mother struggle to make ends meet and hold the dwindling Pruitt family together. Then one night a mysterious girl arrives on a steamboat bound for St. Louis. Delphine is unlike anyone the small river town has even seen. Mrs. Pruitt agrees to take Delphine and her dark, silent traveling companion in as boarders. No one in town knows what to make of the two strangers, and so the rumors fly. Is Delphine's companion a slave? Could they be spies for the South? Are the Pruitts traitors? A masterful tale of mystery and war, and a breathtaking portrait of the lifelong impact one person can have on another.
I actually rather enjoyed this book. I wasn't expecting to, since I am usually not too big a fan of historical novels (or much of history in general), and I was only reading it because of book club. But this was actually pretty good.
There are separate beginning and ending parts that are in a different point of view, which are pretty good. I liked them better at the end, but that's only because I actually knew who the people were. The middle is in Tilly's point of view, the sister of Noah, who goes into the civil war later in the book. And her family takes in these two girls, who they assume are from the rebels side and who they don't really know the origin of but guess on.
I liked Tilly, and it's written as she's telling it to the boy from the beginning and end (which I didn't understand at first, but should have), which makes it more interesting than if it were just written in present or past tense. Because she knows that things are going to happen and is telling him ahead of time, that things are coming, and sums up some things with the war or when someone does something. It made it easy to read.
And the rest of the characters are rather well written as well. I liked Delphine and found her really interesting, and enjoyed reading about her. As I did Calinda and Cass, even if there wasn't quite as much of them. And Noah.
And I didn't even mind the civil war parts. Which is probably because Tilly mostly heard about it, and when she did get to be kind of a part of it, she was in the hospital parts. And so I did enjoy those parts as well. I also like reading about how they lived back in 1861, how everything we have cheap now was very expensive, and how they rarely had mirrors, things that I hadn't really thought about; that was interesting.
So it was pretty good, and I did enjoy it quite a bit (at one point, I even found myself wanting to read it instead of doing something else).