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A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, Fenwick Island, Delaware 1861 (Dear America Series)





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About the book:

This engaging addition to the successful Dear America series follows the adventures of Amelia Martin, a lighthouse keeper's daughter living on an island off the coast of Delaware in 1861. Amelia helps her father keep the light and her mother keep the house, but she cannot keep their marriage together. Newbery Medal recipient Karen Hesse (Out of the Dust) cleverly personifies the conflict between North and South, abolitionist and secessionist, Union and Confederacy in the troubled marriage of Amelia's parents. Amelia watches, powerless, as the relationship disintegrates: "I feel as if I am the Light in my family. I must keep my hope burning, so that Father and Mother, even in the darkness that seems to engulf them, might find their way back."

The broken marriage provides a powerful example of the way the Civil War tore apart families and friendships. Girls will thrill to Amelia's descriptions of her tomboyish responsibilities as lighthouse keeper and family breadwinner, her burgeoning love affair with a local boy, and her friendship with her abolitionist uncle. While some of the language and details seem anachronistic, Hesse has crafted a remarkably elegant tale of "girl as emotional beacon," tirelessly watching as her world crashes on the shoals. (Ages 9 and older) --Claire Dederer

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