Juliet’s Moon is based on an incident which occurred in the bloody time leading up to Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas. This incident is probably very well known in southern states, but little known in northern states. Rinaldi creates a very sympathetic character in Juliet Bradshaw. When Union sympathizers burn Juliet’s family farm, she only has her brother Seth to turn to. Seth fights with William Quantrill, along with other friends and neighbors. Juliet and other female relatives of Quantrill’s raiders are imprisoned in a dilapidated Kansas City warehouse. When the building collapses, five of the girls are killed and others injured. This actual event is cited as one of the motivations behind Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, where 200 mostly unarmed men were killed and the town was burned. Juliet must come to terms with her beloved brother’s participation in the violence. She herself shoots a Union officer who came to arrest her family and hang them. Rinaldi uses the image of a “dark moon” to symbolize the potential for violence that everyone is capable of in the right situation.
I’d never read any fiction from the Southern point of view and it made me a little uncomfortable. It did make me curious about the border war, so now I’m reading some other books about the Bloody Kansas period. Juliet’s Moon is well written, though I think that it makes too much of Quantrill’s supposed chivalry towards women.
For older elementary readers.reviewed by Victoria
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