Ann Rinaldi has such a gift for creating characters and settings in an immediate way. Her historical novels bring complex events down to a human level, while still being accurate. I find myself caring about her characters–even those whose lives and beliefs are radically different from my own. My Vicksburg
(and Rinaldi’s earlier book, Juliet’s Moon) is told by a young girl caught up in the Confederate cause. Leigh Ann’s family is truly separated by the Civil War conflict. Her father is a doctor with Lee’s army; her brother is a doctor with the Yankees. Leigh Ann must help her family survive during the siege of Vicksburg, when the white civilian population hid in caves to avoid the Union shelling. The family’s trusted slaves are still guarding the family home, with no thought given of their safety.
The Siege of Vicksburg has been overshadowed by the Battle of Gettysburg, where the Confederates were also defeated on July 4. It was interesting to learn of the hardships suffered by both soldiers and civilians. It was also interesting that soldiers of both sides mingled when truce was called, since many communities had soldiers in both armies. My only criticism would be that the book ended before I was ready to say goodbye to the characters.