Finding My Place, One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, by Margo L. Dill, is a tough book. Not because it’s not well-written or is hard to read. It’s tough because it’s a realistic story about a very difficult time in our nation’s history. This is a fictionalized story about General Grant’s six week siege of Vicksburg, as seen through the eyes of thirteen year old, Anna Green. It’s a down-to-earth Civil War story made compelling and personal by the main character.
In the beginning, Anna is living in a cave with her Ma, her brother James, and her sister Sara. Anna’s Pa and her older brother Michael are away, fighting for the South. We see Anna as a normal teen, one who loves to write in her journal, play and fight with her siblings, and who doesn’t relish learning to cook and sew. It’s the family life of a typical teen in 1863 -- except for the shells and bombs from the “Blue Belly Yankees” going off all around them.
As in most war stories, personal tragedy befalls them, and then Anna, Sara, and James have to live with other families. Anna struggles with grief and despairs about her family being separated. Eventually she finds the strength and maturity to bring her family back together. Anna is a survivor. We trust she will be able to deal successfully with almost anything life sends her way.
Margo Dill has interwoven powerful themes in this story: dealing with grief, deprivation, and political issues -- such as slavery -- in war time; coming-of-age in devastating circumstances; the consequences of everyday choices and pivotal life decisions; and the impact of our faith in facing life’s challenges.
The cover illustration, by Doug Knutson, shows how Anna lived during the six week siege. She’s running from the bombs and shells to the sanctuary of a cave where families lived during the shelling. This book vividly tells the story of the Civil War more realistically than most students and children have seen before. They can relate personally to Anna’s pain, hardship, and struggles. Telling someone that war is devastating doesn’t compare with showing them as Margo Dill has done in Finding My Place, One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg.
Available from: http://margodill.com/blog/finding-my-place/
Books by Margo L. Dill:
*Lucy and the Red Ribbon Week Adventure, picture book, High Hill Press, TBD
*Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire and the Case of the Missing Cookies, picture book, Guardian Angel Publishing, TBD