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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She perfectly brings the past back to life, including all of the hardships and challenges, June 1, 2007
This review is from: Come Juneteenth (Great Episodes) (Hardcover)
Thirteen-year-old Luli Holcomb has lived her entire life on the family ranch in Texas. With her father weak from illness and her mother busy helping to run the ranch, Luli's older brother, Gabe, takes charge of her. But he doesn't teach her the ways of a proper southern belle. Instead, Gabe instructs her how to shoot guns, ride and care for horses, and survive in the Texas wilderness.

The other influential person in Luli's life is Sis Goose. Sis Goose's enslaved mother dies right after giving birth, and her white riverboat father is completely uninterested. He immediately gives her to Luli's aunt, who in turn hands her over to Luli's mom. Three years older and unofficially adopted into the family as a baby, Sis Goose and Luli are best friends and sisters. Though legally a slave and belonging to Luli's aunt, Sis Goose is considered family; she goes with them to parties and balls, and shares a bedroom and an education right alongside Luli.

Being in Texas and so far away from the other states, the Civil War seems a million miles away, yet the Holcomb family still feels the effects. Blockades force them to do without coffee and silk dresses, and Gabe enlists in the Confederacy --- though his job is to fight the nearby Native Americans, not the Union soldiers. And then one day a fellow arrives announcing that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation has set the slaves free. But the entire Holcomb family rebukes it as just a false rumor, despite knowing the contrary. On orders of her parents and Gabe, Luli must lie to her best friend and sister.

When asked why, Luli is told that all Texas ranchers are keeping the secret. If the slaves knew the truth, then the crops would never be harvested, not to mention they would stage a bloody uprising and many people would die. So Luli hides the truth even though it burns inside of her. She knows that eventually the facts will emerge and wonders if Sis Goose will ever forgive her. And then one day, in June 1865, the Union soldiers arrive at their ranch, and the truth is finally revealed.

Ann Rinaldi has vast experience in writing historical novels, and her incredible talent shines through once again. She perfectly brings the past back to life, including all of the hardships and challenges, the joy and the sorrow. Readers will be drawn into the story, quickly caring about the realistic characters and the impossible situations they must wade through. COME JUNETEENTH is a wonderful read for everyone!

--- Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman
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4.2 out of 5 stars (10 customer reviews)
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Location: New York, NY