Friday, July 25, 2008

Juliet's Moon

Rinaldi, Ann. 2008. Juliet's moon. Orlando: Harcourt.

Juliet's Moon is a powerful and serious book about Juliet Bradshaw, a young teen living in 1863 Missouri, a state wrenched apart by the Civil War. Juliet's brother, Seth, is a a member of the famed Quantrill's Raiders. In retaliation for Quantrill's guerrilla raids, the Union Army burns the Bradshaw home. Juliet and other girls with "kin" in Quantrill's band are arrested and placed in a Union prison; but Juliet's trials do not end there. The story follows Juliet as the war heaps more danger, heartache and misery upon her.

Her brother, honest and caring, tries to make sense of the war, the inhumanity, the killings, "You live with it, eat with it, and walk with it every minute of your life for quite a while, Juliet. And then one day you find you aren't eating with it anymore and you think it's disappearing, but then it comes back just when you sit down to a good meal of steak and eggs."

Some of the plot lines seemed implausible, but truth can be stranger than fiction. The author's note that follows the story reveals that the most improbable occurrences in Juliet's Moon did, in fact, actually take place - a man masquerading as a woman in Quantrill's Confederate gang (the famous Sue Mundy) and the deadly structural collapse of a Union prison holding young, Southern, female civilians.

The story reads like a Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain for teens, starkly and honestly showing the wartime degradation of morality and the ever-fluctuating measure of integrity - not only as it affects combatants, but also civilians, and even young girls. But also like Cold Mountain, Juliet's Moon offers hopefulness in love, as Juliet finds comfort in her loving brother and his "intended."

The book jacket lists an age range of 10 and up, however, the predatory behavior of the soldiers toward the young girls, particularly Juliet, might be inappropriate. Best for ages 12 and up. Part of the Great Episodes series.

1 comment:

  1. This book has just be reclassified in my library as a YA (young adult) title.