Patricia Beatty’s Turn Homeward, Hannalee was a tale (the first half of which is true) about a young girl living in Roswell, GA during the Civil War. Like most able bodied people in her town, she and her siblings worked in the local garment mill since the men were away at war. Times were extremely difficult with little to eat, little to look forward to (except the distant hope of victory), a brother away at war, and a father who had died of camp fever.
Times got worse. Yankees burned the mill, arrested the mill workers for treason (they were making Confederate gray uniforms), and sent the workers away to northern states to work. When Hannahlee and her little brother have to leave their expectant mother home alone in a now-Yankee occupied town, things looked dark indeed.
The story is about Hannalee’s experiences and the people meets along the way – some Confederates, some Yankees, some kind, some hurt, some angry – as she tries to figure out how she can get back home.
There was just enough description of the horrors of war (Hannahlee witnesses the battle of Nashville) to not frighten my children (now almost 8 & 10) but to make them rather somber. There is blood and maiming and death, but my kids didn’t cry or have bad dreams. I think Beatty hit a good balance point with this sensitive topic.
After reading Turn Homeward, Hannalee, I’ll never look at persimmon seed in the same way again. You’ll have to read the book to find out why. – milkmaid