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Across Five Aprils

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The Newbery Award winning author of Up a Road Slowly presents the unforgettable story of Jethro Creighton—a brave boy who comes of age during the turbulent years of the Civil War.

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The Newbery Award winning author of Up a Road Slowly presents the unforgettable story of Jethro Creighton—a brave boy who comes of age during the turbulent years of the Civil War.

30 review for Across Five Aprils

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Do they make kid's books like this sort anymore? Real and real painful. Across Five Aprils was required reading in 6th grade and it was as if the teacher's were saying "Life's a bitch, get used to it." I remember this as eloquently rendered and high-minded, gut-wrenching drama when I read it way back then. Mind you, I also thought TV's The Waltons was the height of drama, so maybe my opinion is a bit skewed on the subject. Just the same, Across Five Aprils, the story of brothers torn apart by the Do they make kid's books like this sort anymore? Real and real painful. Across Five Aprils was required reading in 6th grade and it was as if the teacher's were saying "Life's a bitch, get used to it." I remember this as eloquently rendered and high-minded, gut-wrenching drama when I read it way back then. Mind you, I also thought TV's The Waltons was the height of drama, so maybe my opinion is a bit skewed on the subject. Just the same, Across Five Aprils, the story of brothers torn apart by the America Civil War, did win the Newbery, so it must've been doing something right. The story is told from the perspective of the youngest son watching his older brothers go off to war. Like the town they live in, most are pro-Union, but one of them sides with the Confederacy, and so he and the family suffer. It's a large family with daughters embroiled in their own private war of romance and love held in check. I recall the ending feeling a bit slapped on for happiness sake and that a happy ending that made sense in the context of the story to that point would've felt more natural, if a happy ending must happen that is. Perhaps Hunt or her publisher felt like they'd beaten up the psyche of us kids enough to that point.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    TERRIBLE BOOK. that is all I have to say. This is about the Civil War and how the main character Jethro is coming of age. This book was so boring that I do not have anything more to say. Do not read it. If you are interested in the Civil War, maybe you should consider it because it gives you a lot of historical background information. Otherwise, it is veyr hard to keep reading this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    I wish I could find my copy of this. It's around here somewhere. I still have the edition I read in high school and I wanted to look up the copywrite date. The edition I selected here -- obviously -- isn't the one I have but I doubt there's a picture of my edition's cover anywhere on-line, it's so old. When I locate it, I'll come back and annotate the exact date. This is a classic tale about the Civil War and I've read it at least three times--maybe more. The last time was with my daughters and I I wish I could find my copy of this. It's around here somewhere. I still have the edition I read in high school and I wanted to look up the copywrite date. The edition I selected here -- obviously -- isn't the one I have but I doubt there's a picture of my edition's cover anywhere on-line, it's so old. When I locate it, I'll come back and annotate the exact date. This is a classic tale about the Civil War and I've read it at least three times--maybe more. The last time was with my daughters and I enjoyed it more than ever! Started: 29 November 2000

  4. 4 out of 5

    Angela R. Watts

    This is the only book I have read that captures the reality of the Civil War in a gripping, astounding story. This story does not choose a political side and push propaganda, like so many other stories and history textbooks do. Across Five Aprils shows the truth: that there was much more to the American Civil War than just slavery. From a historical, realistic viewpoint, this book was spot on and never had info dumps. It flowed well and showed many events in a clear light. The setting was also v This is the only book I have read that captures the reality of the Civil War in a gripping, astounding story. This story does not choose a political side and push propaganda, like so many other stories and history textbooks do. Across Five Aprils shows the truth: that there was much more to the American Civil War than just slavery. From a historical, realistic viewpoint, this book was spot on and never had info dumps. It flowed well and showed many events in a clear light. The setting was also vivid. The characters were all very well done and memorable. Each character added something to the story. (view spoiler)[ I WILL NEVER BE OVER BILL, Y'ALL. (hide spoiler)] I cannot serve this book justice by my review. I love it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rosemarie

    This book shows us in a moving and sympathetic way the effects of the American Civil War on a farming family in southern Illinois.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sybil

    Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt manages to turn the thrilling action and gruesome turmoil of war into threadbare monotony. Despite its detailed descriptions of familial discords, the book has no central plot. The chapters are nonsensical and do not follow a recognizable storyline. For instance, in one chapter, Jethro's mother falls ill because of caffeine addiction. In the next chapter, a criminal's father rescues Jethro from an attacker on the roadside. How do all these scattered events come t Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt manages to turn the thrilling action and gruesome turmoil of war into threadbare monotony. Despite its detailed descriptions of familial discords, the book has no central plot. The chapters are nonsensical and do not follow a recognizable storyline. For instance, in one chapter, Jethro's mother falls ill because of caffeine addiction. In the next chapter, a criminal's father rescues Jethro from an attacker on the roadside. How do all these scattered events come together? What effect do they have on the overall atmosphere of war? In the book, the topic of war, which is supposedly the main idea, is only mentioned briefly and vaguely. In addition, the characters are flat and undeveloped. Jenny appears repeatedly as a lovesick and educated girl, and Jethro as a farm boy who matures, but neither of these characters have a profound effect on the progress of the story. All in all, Across Five Aprils is a tedious read due to its colorless storyline and characters. I would definitely not recommend this book, and if you're one of the less fortunate students forced to read it for school, let SparkNotes be your savior.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    i wish irene hunt's death could have been at least as agonizing as reading this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    The 12yo in my house had to finish this for summer reading, and would not stop complaining about how boring it was. I'm an enormous fan of historical fiction, so I was of course incensed. How could she not love a book about growing up during the Civil War? I decreed that we'd finish it as an audio book so I could explain its many virtues and strengths to her. Turns out the book is unbelievably dull. I mean tepid bathwater on a Tuesday night dull. There's no character development. There isn't eve The 12yo in my house had to finish this for summer reading, and would not stop complaining about how boring it was. I'm an enormous fan of historical fiction, so I was of course incensed. How could she not love a book about growing up during the Civil War? I decreed that we'd finish it as an audio book so I could explain its many virtues and strengths to her. Turns out the book is unbelievably dull. I mean tepid bathwater on a Tuesday night dull. There's no character development. There isn't even a lot of dialogue, and what's there is stilted and awkward. There's no scaffolding that helps explain the issues behind the civil war. The plot follows an adolescent character who has virtually no interaction with adolescent peers, making it especially dull to the average tween reader. And by the end of the book it lapses into simply recounting the outcome of a series of Civil War battles that the main character reads about in newspapers. Which, hey, is a lot like reading about them in history books. So much for bringing history alive. In sum, I am incredulous that this is so commonly assigned in schools. The world is teeming with engaging, well-written historical fiction for teens. This is not it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I am reading this with a book with a group of 6th graders, and so far they do not appreciate this excellent book. My high school English teacher always said to give classic literature a good 50 pages before giving up, and I think/hope they will be hooked by then. I last read it in junior high - I remember liking it, but as an adult I loved it. It is beautifully written, with wonderfully well developed characters. I laughed and I cried with the experiences of a very genuine family and the impact I am reading this with a book with a group of 6th graders, and so far they do not appreciate this excellent book. My high school English teacher always said to give classic literature a good 50 pages before giving up, and I think/hope they will be hooked by then. I last read it in junior high - I remember liking it, but as an adult I loved it. It is beautifully written, with wonderfully well developed characters. I laughed and I cried with the experiences of a very genuine family and the impact of the Civil War in their lives. I've been to many Civil War battlefields and I've seen the movie Gettysburg several times (it's 4 hours long, so that is saying something!), so I am familiar with the names of many of the generals and battles in the book. It covers the length of the war, so there are a lot of generals and battles to have to keep track of, which will probably bog down story for the kids I am reading it with. Overall though it is an outstanding piece of children's literature and definitely worth reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    First of all, anyone who gave this book a single star or complained "My lame teacher made me read this...." needs to be deleted. A few months ago, I was reminiscing about the mandatory reading that was required in junior and high school and one of the few I remembered was this story. I decided to read this since I realize you don't ever appreciate things when you're in high school. This book, to me is actually a 4.5 only because of the slow start until about chapter 4. The poor grammar of Jethro First of all, anyone who gave this book a single star or complained "My lame teacher made me read this...." needs to be deleted. A few months ago, I was reminiscing about the mandatory reading that was required in junior and high school and one of the few I remembered was this story. I decided to read this since I realize you don't ever appreciate things when you're in high school. This book, to me is actually a 4.5 only because of the slow start until about chapter 4. The poor grammar of Jethro and his family written can be hard to read at times also but you get used to it. I did find the characters feelings very real. It painted a very real image of the times and how hard it was to even survive. I felt that I was living on a farm in southern Illinois during the Civil War. The historical writing is fantastic and the story represented the civil war fiction very well. Anyone with interest in how the civil war had affected everyday people, who gave up their family to fight such horrific battles for our country will enjoy!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Abi

    I hated this book so much! I was forced to read it in school and hated it. I never even had that much intrest in civil war stories anyway. So to say I hated this book was an understatement. I would only reccomend this to you if you are absolutely obsessed with the civil way, but if you aren't dont bother reading this long and exteremely boring book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    Too much exposition and description. The author uses her characters only as vehicles for dolling out historical information. So it all falls flat. Between the exposition, the unrealistic dialogue, a severe lack of subtlety, and the special coincidences, I became quickly disconnected from the story — rolled my eyes at several spots.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tamhack

    This is a written for children through the eyes of a 10 year old boy but the author has taken true stories passed down from her Grandfather who was a 9 year boy at the beginning of the Civil War. Then she did extensive research to fill in the holes. It gave a good picture of the civil war from a Northern perspective. Even families in the North were divided. She gave a good picture of the Generals of the Northern armies and how difficult it was for Lincoln to find one that would win the war and e This is a written for children through the eyes of a 10 year old boy but the author has taken true stories passed down from her Grandfather who was a 9 year boy at the beginning of the Civil War. Then she did extensive research to fill in the holes. It gave a good picture of the civil war from a Northern perspective. Even families in the North were divided. She gave a good picture of the Generals of the Northern armies and how difficult it was for Lincoln to find one that would win the war and end it. Sometimes it was difficult to understand the conversations because she was true to the characters and wrote exactly as they spoke. Some quotes from the book: "..does trouble over slavery come because men's hearts is purer above the Mason-Dixon line? Or does slavery throw a shader over greed and keep that greed from shown' up quite so bare and ugly?" "Human nature ain't any better one side of a political line than on the other-we know that-but human nature, the all-over picture of it, is better than it was a thousand-five hundred-even a hundred years ago. There is an awakening' inside us of human decency and responsibility. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't grieve fer the children I've buried; I wouldn't look forward to the manhood of this youngest one."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Winkel

    Since this book is about the Civil War from the perspective of a boy back home in Southern Illinois, all of the war action takes place out of the main narrative and is related by newspaper accounts and letters. Even as a teacher I kept waiting for it to get better, and unfortunately, I reached the back cover before it did. I chose this book because I needed a historical fiction title to read with seventh graders, and the school had a classroom set available. I'm afraid I didn't sell the genre wit Since this book is about the Civil War from the perspective of a boy back home in Southern Illinois, all of the war action takes place out of the main narrative and is related by newspaper accounts and letters. Even as a teacher I kept waiting for it to get better, and unfortunately, I reached the back cover before it did. I chose this book because I needed a historical fiction title to read with seventh graders, and the school had a classroom set available. I'm afraid I didn't sell the genre with this book. From its ho-hum beginning in the potato field to it's forgettable conclusion (I think there was a field or planting involved, though I'm not willing to burn the calories to find a copy to find out), this book did not engage me or my students. In fact, they have since called it the Voldemort of books, and refuse to call it by name, though TBTSNBN ("The Book That Shall Not Be Named") is too unwieldy for classroom conversation. I'm sorry that I can't report being impressed with the 1965 Newbery Selection Committee's selection. I can only conclude that 1965 must have been a bad year in general for juvenile fiction.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    So far, boring. :/ It's a book I have to read for school about a nine-year-old boy durring the beginning of the Civil War. But then again, maybe I'm just baised against anything I am forced to read. xD

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    NEVER READ THIS BOOK!!!! I had to read it for school and it is like the worst book ever. It's all about the Civil war and blah blah blah. It's not even interesting and I didn't learn anything from it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joleen

    soooooooooooo B-O-R-I-N-G!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gracelyn Buckner

    5 Stars I first received a copy of Across Five Aprils from my grandfather several Christmases ago. She had bought three copies at a Civil War battlefield, one for me and two for my cousins. I began reading it right away, but I found the slang too challenging at the time. It sat unread for a few years, until I picked it up a few weeks ago. And I was happily surprised. Things I Love: 1) The setting. Hidalgo was the perfect place to capture the conflict between residents of once close-knit towns. It a 5 Stars I first received a copy of Across Five Aprils from my grandfather several Christmases ago. She had bought three copies at a Civil War battlefield, one for me and two for my cousins. I began reading it right away, but I found the slang too challenging at the time. It sat unread for a few years, until I picked it up a few weeks ago. And I was happily surprised. Things I Love: 1) The setting. Hidalgo was the perfect place to capture the conflict between residents of once close-knit towns. It also revealed the stark contrasts of different areas of Indiana. (Western North Carolina, where I live, was also a place of conflict during the Civil War, so this appealed to me. My book, Letters from Home: A Civil War Story, focuses on much of this strife.) 2) Bill. Bill was a character anyone could relate to. The man that does what he feels he needs to do, and is criticized for it. The man whose father is disparaged by his neighbors for his son's "wrong" actions. a) Bill's description: pg.22: " reading was not regarded highly there was something suspect about a young man who not only cared very little for hunting or wrestling and nothing at all for drinking and rampaging about the country, but who read every book he could lay his hands upon as if he prized a printed page more than the people around him. He wasn’t quite held in contempt, for he had great physical strength and was a hard worker, two attributes admired by the people around him; but he was odd, and there was no doubt of that. Men had seen him stop his team in midfield to watch the flight of a line of birds, and a story went the rounds of Bill talking to his horse as if it were a person. “He talked to it gentle,” the story went, “like a woman talkin’ to a young ‘un.” He had even attended school the previous winter when work was slack, which was surely a fool thing to do unless one was interested in “breakin’ up school.” He had listened intently to what a young man three years his junior had to say; he had studied and done the tasks set for him by Shadrach Yale as if he were no older than Jethro. It was not a behavior pattern of which the backwoods community approved; a lot of people smirked a little when they mentioned Bill Creighton. Jethro loved Bill far and away beyond his other brothers; his mother understood why. “He’d put his hand in the fire fer you, Jeth,” she told him once, and Jethro believed her." b) Bill's thoughts on the war: pg. 41: ""Air yore thoughts about the war, Bill?" "About the war--yes, mostly." "The north will fin'ly win, won't it, Bill?" "I don't know if anybody ever 'wins' a war, Jeth. I think that the beginnin's of this war has been fanned by hate till it's a blaze now; and a blaze kin destroy him that makes it and him that the fire was set to hurt. There oughtn't to be a war, Jeth; this war ought never to ha' bin." "Did the South started it, didn't they, Bill?" "The North and the South and the East and the West--we all started it. The old slavers of other days and the fact'ry owners of today that need high tariffs to help 'em git rich, and the cotton growers that need slave labor to help 'em git rich and the new territories and the wild talk-" He broke off suddenly and walked over the window where a branch of poplar tree seemed to be trying to peer inside the small, cramped room. "I have slavery, Jeth, but I hate another slavery of people workin' their lives away in dirty fact'ries for a wage that kin scarce keep life in 'em; I hate secession, but at the same time I can't see how a whole region kin be able to live if their way of life is all of a sudden upset; I hate talk of nullification; but at the same time I hate laws passed by Congress that favors one part of a country and hurts the other." c) Bill's departure: pg. 44-46: ""What's hurt you, Bill?" he asked, his voice barely audible, for he was pretty sure he knew. "We had a fight, Jeth, about an hour ago. We fit like two madmen, I guess." "You and John?" Bill's sigh was almost a moan. "Yes, me and John. Me and my brother John." Jethro could not answer. He stared at the cut above Bill's right eye, from which blood still trickled down his cheek... "What made you fight, Bill?" "Hard feelin's that have have been building up fer weeks, hard feelin's that fin'ly came out in harsh words." He held his hand across his eyes for a minute and then spoke quickly. "I'm leavin', Jeth; it ain't that I want to, but it's that I must. The day is comin' when I've got to fight, and I won't fight fer arrogance and big money against the southern farmer. I won't do it. You tell Pa that. Tell him, too, that I'm takin' my brown mare--she's mine, and I hev the right. Still, it will leave him short, so you tell him that I'm leavin' money I made at the sawmill and at cornshuckin'; it's inside the cover of his Bible. You tell him to take it and buy another horse." Jethro was crying unashamedly in the face of his grief. "Don't go, Bill. Don't do it," he begged. "Jeth..." "I don't want you to go, Bill. I don't think I kin stand it." "Listen to me, Jeth; you're gettin to be a sizable boy. There's goin' to be a lot of things in the years ahead that you'll have to stand. There'll be thing that tear you apart, but you'll have to stand 'em. You can't count on cryin' to make 'em right." ..."Will ye fight for the Rebs?" Bill hesitated for a few seconds. "I've studied this thing, Jeth, and I've hurt over it. My heart ain't in this war; I've told you that. And while I say that the right ain't all on the side of the North, I know jest as well that it ain't all on the side of the South either. But if I hev to fight, I reckon it will be fer the South."" Things I Didn't Like: Nothing at all. I'm really glad I chose to read this book. Across Five Aprils has earned itself a place in my favorite books.

  19. 5 out of 5

    ♡kellin♡

    I don't have any words. How can I describe a book this.....AWFUL?!? I think this is one of the worst books I've read. It might even be at the top of my Most Hated Books list, or at least tied with Johnny Tremain. Not only was this book extremely boring, but it literally made me want to vomit every time I looked at the cover. Literally. And that's just the cover. I admit, I read Across Five Aprils for school (not that I would ever pick up a book like this of my own accord) and I wondered during c I don't have any words. How can I describe a book this.....AWFUL?!? I think this is one of the worst books I've read. It might even be at the top of my Most Hated Books list, or at least tied with Johnny Tremain. Not only was this book extremely boring, but it literally made me want to vomit every time I looked at the cover. Literally. And that's just the cover. I admit, I read Across Five Aprils for school (not that I would ever pick up a book like this of my own accord) and I wondered during class, why on earth we would read a book like this? I didn't learn anything from it, my friends certainly didn't learn anything from it, and I bet my teacher didn't even learn ONE valuable lesson. I know, I know, the book talks about loyalty to family and working hard and so on, but let's be honest. Have we not heard of all these things from other books? Have we not had lectures of this from our family? So, with all life lessons put aside, is there anything valuable we can get out if this book? The only other reason to read it is because of the entertainment aspect, and that is practically nonexistent. Maybe some enjoy the love story. Personally, I don't. A fourteen year old girl in love with a twenty-something year old man? And then MARRYING HIM?!? Talk about pedophilia. Maybe others enjoy the excitement of war. (What excitement? Jethrow never goes to battle. We only hear about the fighting from letters.) I don't know. Maybe some people enjoyed it. But the whole point if this is to say I DIDNT!!! Why did someone choose to make this a required reading book? If I made a petition to stop reading Across Five Aprils, I think the ENTIRE school would sign it. Is the person in charge of deciding what to read for school a crotchety old hag? I think so! Talk about out of date. I'm not saying we should read books like the Hunger Games for school. (but that would be nice) Just something easier to read and more entertaining. So far, the only school book I've liked is the Giver. And yes, to answer your question, I gave this book ZERO stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I have heard about this book before, but I've never heard much more than this was a wonderful book. I never knew what it was about, where it took place, or the topic it discussed. So, when I was at a small thrift store close to where I live I saw this there for a quarter and I had to pick it up. Once I got home and I was adding it to my Goodreads I realized that it took place in Southern Illinois, and I knew I had to read it. I currently live in Southern Illinois, and I love it. It's extremely ru I have heard about this book before, but I've never heard much more than this was a wonderful book. I never knew what it was about, where it took place, or the topic it discussed. So, when I was at a small thrift store close to where I live I saw this there for a quarter and I had to pick it up. Once I got home and I was adding it to my Goodreads I realized that it took place in Southern Illinois, and I knew I had to read it. I currently live in Southern Illinois, and I love it. It's extremely rural, and many people would call people who lived here "hicks" comparable to Arkansas, Kentucky, or West Virginia, however, I've come to call this place home and I love the way Irene Hunt portrays it. Southern Illinois isn't the richest, nor the most educated, but it is full of great, strong people and this book illustrates that well. Overall a wonderful, engaging, yet simple read, marketed towards young adults, but worthwhile for anyone.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sean Campbell

    An absolute piece of shit. If you can get past the writing style, which is essentially redneck-toungue, you're going to be treated to a boring, predictable tale about some kid and his family while his brothers go off to kill each other in the civil war. I was made to read this book in the seventh grade, and I remember that we, my class I mean (all from South Carolina no less) had to go through a crash course in the redneck "language" that this book was written in. It was painful to read. Like rea An absolute piece of shit. If you can get past the writing style, which is essentially redneck-toungue, you're going to be treated to a boring, predictable tale about some kid and his family while his brothers go off to kill each other in the civil war. I was made to read this book in the seventh grade, and I remember that we, my class I mean (all from South Carolina no less) had to go through a crash course in the redneck "language" that this book was written in. It was painful to read. Like reading Shakespeare in Klingon. Check that, like reading Twilight in Klingon.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    This book was about the Civil War, a much talked about subject(book and history wise) and it drove me crazy!!!! I can't stand to read about one more battle. The plot was boring and the characters mediocre and unintresting. This is one of the most boring books I have read. I wouldn't suggest this to anyone unless you are having trouble getting to sleep or if you actually like the Civil War which if you do I don't mean to offend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Looney

    I didnt much like the book, it was a very dry read. It was hard for me to really get into it when they were describe how he had to tend to the farm by himself; I would have liked more action and drama to occure. his mom having caffeen with draws waasnt enough for me to really care...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jane Gansey

    I did not enjoy it very much. I don't think I will be rereading this book again. The parts I liked the most were the parts with Shadrach and Jenny or Jenny and Jethro.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Tragic and beautiful, this book describes the deep family divisions which the Civil War caused. War may be captivating, but it is also hell.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anne Lawson

    I'm re-reading the novels I enjoyed as a child, and this is one of the best. A great perspective on the Civil War, bringing up all the historical facts as well as emotional family issues surrounding the War. There is much to be enjoyed even if you are not a Civil War buff. The family is close-knit and must deal with the effects of having two sons fighting on different sides. The community is close and rallies together. Unlike many novels, in this one people ponder issues of character and almost I'm re-reading the novels I enjoyed as a child, and this is one of the best. A great perspective on the Civil War, bringing up all the historical facts as well as emotional family issues surrounding the War. There is much to be enjoyed even if you are not a Civil War buff. The family is close-knit and must deal with the effects of having two sons fighting on different sides. The community is close and rallies together. Unlike many novels, in this one people ponder issues of character and almost always end up calmly doing the right thing. They value education that comes from books, letters, newspapers and maps. They wonder about what President Lincoln is doing but they respect him, write to him and consider him a friend. There is much to be learned from the Creightons.... I don't understand the negative reviews.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda Hart

    This is an extensively well researched book, the author having woven the story primarily from her grandfather's journals but also from old newspaper clippings, letters, war journals, and stories he related to her and her parents. Her grandfather was 9 years old when the Civil War began and the story 11 year old Jethro chronicles is her grandfather's story. Jethro watches a war unfold around him and feels the effects of it on his community and on his own family. Five men & boys, age 16 and ov This is an extensively well researched book, the author having woven the story primarily from her grandfather's journals but also from old newspaper clippings, letters, war journals, and stories he related to her and her parents. Her grandfather was 9 years old when the Civil War began and the story 11 year old Jethro chronicles is her grandfather's story. Jethro watches a war unfold around him and feels the effects of it on his community and on his own family. Five men & boys, age 16 and over, join the forces, four with the Union, and one enlisting with the Confederates. Despite literature that ideallizes the simplicity of an agrarian life in the 1800's, the reality is life was hard, with or without war. Living in Southern Illinois, was a hotbed for conflicting feelings; there were cousins in the family who fought, & died, on both sides. The author gives readers compelling arguments on both sides and the emotions that went with that division, not only within the country but within communities and families. The book begins and ends in April, over a period of 5 years. During these 5 years we see the main character, Jethro, become a man as he takes on the responsibilities not only of the large family farm, but for other household duties and being a substitute father & role model for his brother's sons who live with them. He finds himself in the middle of dangerous, even life threatening situations with some lowlife townspeople who persecute him & his family for having a son / brother considered a traitor for having joined the Confederates. I am so glad I read this book. I not only gained insights to the Civil War, but to the realities of life 150 years ago. This was a wonderful book---A good book for men and women, both, whether history lovers or readers who prefer human dramas. I would recommend only to young adults who are avid readers. It is another book I give an extra star to for no vulgar language, gratuitous sex, or descriptive violence. It does deal with some shady vile characters, and some heart wrenching situations in regard to the war, but does it in a tasteful, easy to read style and is a highly moral book with a realistic but satisfying conclusion. Considering the themes and subjects it deals with, it could be very dark, but it is not. I'm a better person for having read it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Betancourt

    Love this book! Wish I read it sooner...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    4.5 would be a more appropriate rating. This was a great story about the Civil War and would be especially good for fifth graders studying American history. Although it never takes us to any actual battlegrounds, we still get a really good overview of some of the battles, the strategies, and the the North's command woes. Young Jethro, the main character, studies them in the newspapers and the letters home from the soldiers in his family give us the rest of the information. One thing I especially 4.5 would be a more appropriate rating. This was a great story about the Civil War and would be especially good for fifth graders studying American history. Although it never takes us to any actual battlegrounds, we still get a really good overview of some of the battles, the strategies, and the the North's command woes. Young Jethro, the main character, studies them in the newspapers and the letters home from the soldiers in his family give us the rest of the information. One thing I especially liked about this book is that it is really good about not condescending to a child's level. It is written from a child's perspective and will certainly hold children's interest but, as the book itself points out, even children experienced the effects of war. They could not be entirely screened from its tragedies. I also enjoy the interaction of the characters in the story. You can really tell how much Jethro and his family love each other, despite the difficulties they sometimes create for each other. Jethro grows himself a lot over the course of the book as he is called upon to face some very difficult physical, emotional, and even moral challenges. It is wonderful to watch his growth as he works through each obstacle. My only issue with the ending is this: what became of Bill? All in all, this was a great book and was a wonderful distraction to listen to while packing, cleaning, and moving classrooms.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Whal

    This book was assigned to me for summer reading, and it honestly made the whole project much more difficult than I would have liked. It follows the boring cookie-cutter hero named Jethro, who lives on a farm during the Civil War. Of course, the only main characters who fight in the Civil War are older siblings and friends of Jethro's. We only hear about the war through letters and newspaper articles, which we only sometimes see in their entirety. In order to finish the project on time, we had t This book was assigned to me for summer reading, and it honestly made the whole project much more difficult than I would have liked. It follows the boring cookie-cutter hero named Jethro, who lives on a farm during the Civil War. Of course, the only main characters who fight in the Civil War are older siblings and friends of Jethro's. We only hear about the war through letters and newspaper articles, which we only sometimes see in their entirety. In order to finish the project on time, we had to listen to the audio book. Even then, the narrator sounded monotone and bored, but was trying to present the book as something engaging and exciting. You have to feel sorry for the guy, however, because he's clearly had a stroke after having to read the book out loud for ten hours total (not counting having to re-read it after making mistakes). At least we got some "sick harmonica solos" after every chapter. In conclusion, Across Five Aprils is a decent endeavor to make a book that will appeal to a younger age group, but totally flops because of the 100% lack of character development (and no, aging three years doesn't count). NOTE: I started the book, wasn't finishing in time, decided to listen to the audio book, fell asleep a few times, and re-read the book before finishing the project.

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