Wow, it's been a while since I've shown my face here. I'm sorry for my general blogosphere scarcity, but I would be remiss if I didn't tell you to expect more of the same. As the holidays descend with alarming quickness (can it really be Thanksgiving next week?), and all of my belongings seems to be breaking down or requiring extra attention (do I own them or do they own me???), and the prospect of a few weekend outings loom large in my future, I can say with pretty good authority that you probably won't be seeing a good deal of me until, perhaps, after Christmas.
However, this is not an official hiatus notice, just a perhaps unnecessary heads up. If I do manage to crop up, I promise I'll have a book review or few for you as we approach the end of the year whenever I can reasonably manage it (AKA whenever I reasonably feel like it), as I am a good few behind. As a matter of fact, I quite intend to have one for you today.
A while back I read a great review of Black Angels by Linda Beatrice Brown by Susan at Bloggin' 'Bout Books. So great, in fact, that instead of simply adding it to my wish list and moving on as is my typical practice (sorry, bloggers!), I actually commented that I would be adding it to my wish list. In due course, Susan gave my name to Stacey at Penguin Young Readers, and I found myself in possession of a review copy. (Oh FTC, I hope you're "listening"!). So thanks to Susan and Stacey, and now on with the review!
Black Angels is a historical fiction account of three children who for various reasons find themselves lost and alone during the waning days of the American Civil War. First Brown introduces us to Luke, an 11-year-old slave running away to meet other runaways whose goal is to head north and fight for the Union. Then we meet Daylily, a nine-year-old slave girl, alone in the woods having witnessed an act of unspeakable violence. Finally we meet 7-year-old white Caswell, who is fleeing his burning home in search of his probably-dead mother. After their first rainy night alone, the three find each other in the morning, and figuring that without each other they will be totally alone, they form an unlikely trio and determine to head north to safety, or so they hope.
When the ragtag trio, in a moment of desperate need, happen upon a mysterious Indian woman, their paths are changed in more ways then one. She feeds them, clothes them, and seems to know the vast potential that lies inside each of "her" children. As the war drags on into its final days, her wisdom and love will prove even more invaluable than her provision.
Black Angels is a captivating tale of three children who become the forerunners of the many people who have helped heal our nation from years of hatred and prejudice. It teaches the timeless lessons that there are bonds much deeper than blood or color, that we are all essentially the same, and that love gives us the power to overcome in a world that doesn't always understand. It offers younger readers an unflinching but not overpowering glimpse of the Civil War and the miserable years of slavery and the extreme racism that continued long after the war had ended, but at the same time it employs its characters to show readers how wrong it all was and give them hope for our nation's and even humanity's future.
My one complaint would be that the book occasionally dabbles in preachiness, but the instances are few and don't take much away from the book, and for that matter, might not even be so noticeable depending upon the age of the reader. Other than that, Black Angels is a big hearted, beautifully crafted tale of the American Civil War, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to historical fiction fans both young and old.