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incredible odds. Leander struggles to be accepted as a man and loses his arm as a consequence. Polly mourns the death of her father, endures Andersonville Prison, and narrowly escapes the Sultana steamboat disaster. As the lives of these young, brave soldiers intersect, each finds a wealth of courage and learns about the importance of loyalty, family, and love. Like a River is a lyrical atmospheric first novel told in two voices. Readers will be transported to the homes,
waterways, camps, hospitals, and prisons of the Civil War era. They will also see themselves in the universal themes of dealing with parents, friendships, bullying, failure, and young love.
- ISBN-13: 9781629792095
- ISBN-10: 1629792098
- Publisher: Calkins Creek Books
- Publish Date: April 2015
- Page Count: 336
- Reading Level: Ages 10-13
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-02-09
- Reviewer: Staff
Wiechman debuts with a grim Civil War story about two underage Union soldiers, Leander Johnson and Paul Settles. When Leander’s older brother suffers an accident that leaves him without the use of his legs, Leander enlists in his place. Soon severely wounded—through his own clumsiness—he is taken to a makeshift Georgia hospital, where he meets Paul, whose father is dying there. The two become friends, growing closer when Leander discovers an important secret of Paul’s. With Leander stronger and headed home, Paul’s story, in which he is captured and sent to Camp Sumter, takes over. Wiechman delivers a realistic portrayal of the gritty details of prison camp conditions as Paul witnesses many soldiers succumb to infected wounds, disease, and malnutrition. Just as the worst seems to be over, the explosion of the Sultana steamboat takes nearly 1,800 lives, most of them prisoners finally going home, and causes Paul to fight for his life like never before. An extensive author’s note provides historical background, including several period photos. Horrific moments land in quick succession, but the book has strong merit as accurate historical fiction. Ages 9–up. (Apr.)