Thursday, July 16, 2009

Author Joseph Bruchac

I like Joseph Bruchac...well, I like the three books of his I've read; Skeleton Man, Heart of a chief and his newest book, March toward the thunder (2008), a historical fiction novel set during the summer of 1864. The main character is Louis Nolette, an Abenaki Indian from Canada. He is 15-years-old and is recruited to join the Fighting 69th, Irish Brigade. He joins because he knows it is wrong to own another human, he likes the idea of a paycheck and perhaps also he is looking for a bit of adventure. What follows is a fictional account of the battles taking place from April to August.

What I loved about this book were the descriptions of what soldiers experienced in the Civil War. I'd always heard stories of brothers fighting brothers in battle but this book brings to life what it must have felt like to feel so close to the enemy. There is a two-page description (p. 34-35) of what it was like to load their issued ball at a time, so each time they fired they had to reload. The description of the doctor's tent is vividly real. I've read other fictional accounts of this time period; this one really helped me grasp exactly how those battles would feel. Louis tells us all about how each battle was won or lost in a remembering back sequence, which makes it easy to understand and feel how awful the battle really was. This is a great book to show what is truly lost during war.

Bruchac does a wonderful job of telling the story through Louis' eyes in this first person narrative. Louis, a quiet soldier, easily makes friends and through his relationships we see what kind of person he is and how it is that through it all he survives. He experiences racism in the midst of putting his life on the line for a country that doesn't even see him as a full citizen. I learned a great deal reading this book and now want to read Codetalker, Bruchac's book about Native Americans in WWII. Anybody interested in the Civil War, Native life or great characters will enjoy this story.
Check out Joseph Bruchac's website here.
American Indians in Children's Lit. website reviews it here.
and a great review by Brian Griggs here.

What is your favorite historical fiction book?

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