I'm currently reading The Perilous Road by William O. Steele. It's a book about a family who lives in Tennessee during the Civil War. The middle son, Chris Brabson, is a Southern sympathizer who is outraged that his older brother would choose to join the Union army and fight for the U.S. His family suffers when others in the community ostracize them and damage their property. Chris is ashamed of both his father and his brother, and he wants to do something to prove to the members of the community that he is not a traitor. He begins to search for ways to hurt the Union army and finds a co-conspirator in his older friend, Silas Agee.
So far, I'm enjoying the book. It's not the best that I've ever read, but it is different because it shows the divided loyalties of the people at the time. I've always heard that the Civil War pitted brother against brother, but this is the first novel I've read that takes that literally. Right now I'm wondering if Chris can really trust Silas. I feel like the author is leading us to believe that Silas is the one who stole Chris's buckskin shirt and that he believes that he can lead Chris into doing whatever he wants. I think the author has done a great job of showing us how alone Chris feels and his frustration with his family and the losses they have suffered at both the hands of the Union soldiers and his own neighbors. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out!
I learned about how mules are used on the farm. Chris and his dad had to actually harness themselves so that they could pull logs because the mules were taken by the Union army. I can see how this would make him feel angry. It would be really hard work to try to pull logs if you aren't as strong as a mule! :)
The new book I'm reading is Loot by Jude Watson. At the beginning, the two main characters are Alfie McQuin and his 12-year-old son, March. The two are Americans, but they have been living in the city of Amsterdam in Holland. Alfie is a notorious thief, a cat burglar, and in the opening scene, March is supposed to be waiting with a "getaway" bicycle for his dad, who is busy robbing a home. Only, March quickly discovers that the bike has been stolen. Worse than that, after his father throws down a precious, sparkling jewel, he watches as his father falls from the top of a roof and lands with a lifeless thud. Before Alfie dies he tells March to hide for a month and then find jewels. He also mentions a stick and a rag. March then spends his time hiding and trying to stay ahead of a mysterious stranger who is following him.
So far, I really love this book! The author uses such amazing figurative language. For example, he explains that a full moon is not the friend of the thief and describes it as a "fat, satisfied moon" as it illuminates three thieves. He also does a great job using short sentences and repetition to add drama to the story--"In the end, it didn't matter. In the end, they got the goods." I think that the first thief mentioned in the flashback at the beginning is going to be Alfie and that the curse that was put on him is going to affect March and a missing twin sister. The author has already had us meet Jules, March's twin, who he is now traveling back to the United States with. So far this book as kept my interest, and the writing is spectacular!