Friday, November 11, 2011

The River Between Us by Richard Peck

The River Between Us by Richard Peck

The Mississippi river is the longest river in North America.  During the Civil War the river was fought over by the North and South to gain control of ports and shipping routes.  The River Between Us is about people from Grand Tower, Illinois.  A town divided between the North and South with boys leaving to fight on either side.

In 1961, one of the last steamboats arrives in Grand Tower before the blockade and carries two mysterious southern women, Delphine and Calinda.  These two ladies disembark to find a ramshackle town curious and suspicious about the strangers.  The Pruitt family is nice enough to board the strangers and they settle into an easy rapport for awhile.  The Pruitt family consists of Tilly, the main narrator of the story , her twin brother Noah, who is itching to go to war, the younger sister Cass, who sees into the future, and their mother, Mrs. Pruitt, who is trying hard to hold onto her son and keep him out of the war.  Mr. Pruitt is absent from the family.

Mr. Peck has created an entertaining work of historical fiction for teen readers.  There is a mystery to solve, a war to fight, sick to be healed, dead to be buried and stories to tell.  The River Between Us starts out slow and gains speed like a steam engine train.

I read this book because my son is reading it in his 7th grade American History class and I wanted to read it with him.  The Civil War is one of my favorite periods in history to read about.  The River Between Us tells a unique story that taught me a thing or two.  The Battle of Belmont is the first battle fought on the Mississippi River.  The North may have lost the battle but it propelled U.S. Grant forward as a person to contend with and within a year the Union army had made it to New Orleans.  New Orleans was unique as a Southern city because it contained many free people of color.  The free women of color were forbidden to wear hats in 1786 so they chose to wear a tignon otherwise known as kerchief.

The reason I love historical fiction is because I always learn something new. 
What is your favorite period in history to read about?

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