Recommended for ages 10-14
The Battle of Gettysburg has countless stories attached to it: the stories of those who fought and died there. The stories of the people who lived in Gettysburg when war came to town. The stories of everyone in the aftermath. Bobbi Miller gives us three incredible stories-based on real-life events and people-of three girls whose lives were forever changed by Gettysburg.
We have Annie, a 13 year-old girl who has already lost family to the Civil War. Frustrated with her mother’s expectations of what a “lady” should be, she runs away, cuts her hair, and takes up arms against the North. Grace Bryan, a 12-ish year-old girl from a free African American family, is the daughter of a farmer who refuses to flee, like so many other black families who fear capture and enslavement by the Rebels. Tillie, a 14 year-old girl who romanticizes the handsome and noble soldiers, discovers a very different side to war when the war comes to her town.
The first thing I loved about this book – and there are so many things I love about this book – is that the Battle of Gettysburg is truly the background, not a character. The girls’ stories stand on their own: strong, infused with feeling, and entirely individual. There is no right or wrong here – something the characters learn for themselves in the course of the book – only people struggling to survive, be it an escaped slave hoping to make it up North, or a young soldier marching into battle with a tintype and a letter to his mother in his pack.
The Girls of Gettysburg will be a great book for a unit on the Civil War, but even for a discussion of women on the battlefield in the present-day.
The author’s webpage offers more information about her books, and resources for educators and writers.