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Across Five Aprils Paperback – January 8, 2002
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“A deeply affecting, affirmative story.”—Booklist
“A powerfully moving story.”—Chicago Daily News
“An intriguing and beautifully written book, a prize to those who take the time to read it, whatever their ages.”—The New York Times
“This is a beautifully written book, filled with bloodshed, hate, and tears, but also with love, loyalty, and compassion, with unforgettable characters, and with ideas and implications that have meaning for young people today.”—Chicago Tribune
About the Author
- Grade level : 5 - 9
- Lexile measure : 1100L
- Item Weight : 5.6 ounces
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0425182789
- ISBN-10 : 0425182789
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.6 x 7.63 inches
- Reading level : 12 - 13 years
- Publisher : Berkley; Reprint edition (January 8, 2002)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #38,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Set in southern Illinois, the story unfolds over five years, starting just before the Civil War and ending soon after the war ends. Jethro is the main character, a nine year old farmboy who is the baby in the family. Soon all his older brothers go off to war leaving his sister, he, and his parents to tend to the family farm which is a lot of work. Jethro's father falls ill and all the farmwork then falls to Jethro. Forced to grow up before his time given both the family's individual situation and the unrest in the country, this winds up being a coming of age tale. At the start of the story Jethro was a little boy and by the end he is a fourteen year old young man.
Issues with the Civil War are debated and discussed in the story by the characters. An early situation is one of Jethro's brothers sympathizes with the Southerners and leaves the family to fight with the Rebels. This causes discontent, anger and hatred in the community, since they live in The North. Later the Creighton family is the target of hate crimes punishing them for the crime of the traitor son.
Throughout the book we are informed of the happenings in the Civil War as the family hears news of various battles. Sometimes we read letters written by family members at the battlefront and other times we hear the opinions expressed in the newspapers. The opinions of the public about the Generals and President Lincoln are also shared as part of the story. I felt this showed that the issues were complicated and that even a family raised with the same values could not agree on which opinion was the right one. Later we wrestle with the issue of what should happen to soldiers who ran away from the battlefield and also what should happen to the traitors when the war was over.
A subplot is the romantic love that develops between the fourteen year old girl and the schoolteacher who winds up fighting in the war. Her father had banned their marriage before he left to fight saying she was too young to marry. The girl matured in the war years and in the end we hope to see them united in marriage and hope he makes it through the war alive. (I'll not spoil the story...)
I confess I am not a war story lover so in the parts that detailed the details of the battles my interest waned. However I was rivoted to the book and wanted to find out what happened to the Creighton family in the end. I would guess that any reader who likes battle details will be most interested in the book but honestly the story is solid and moves along quickly so even if you just want to know what happens to the individual people in the family and in the community you will enjoy the book.
Character traits and virtues are clearly present in this historical fiction story. There is a lot to talk about regarding ethics and values as well as the topic of the Civil War. The book gave me a sense for what life was like for those who were both fighing in the war and those who were left at home struggling to make ends meet with most of the men in the family gone off to war.
This is a solid, high quality historical fiction book that I think every middle school aged student should read, hopefully in conjunction with a study of The Civil War. I bet they'd learn a lot more by reading this than by reading a boring old textbook.
Young Jethro is an amazing young man who is forced to grow up and become the bread winner but throughout his trail he becomes a thoughtful caring human.
The history of the battles is cleverly written into the fabric of the life's impacted.
Great reading and ranks along side "Where the Red Fern Grows" and "Red Badge of Courage"
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt is a bittersweet book that reminds you that war is never tied up with a tidy bow. People die or are injured or can’t come home for various reasons. The story is told very well with the focus on how the war affected those left at home. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction or the Civil War.