By: Nicole Helget
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publishing Date: February 4, 2014
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: October 10, 2013
This book is a very good read, written in four parts. The story jumps around a bit but the author is good at characterization and keeps the reader up on all the things happening in the small town of Stillwater, Minnesota during the 1860’s, just as the Civil War begins. The people of this town include fraternal twins, Angel and Clement. When the twins were born, their mother had run away from their father to a home run by nuns. She wanted a place where she could leave the babies and not be afraid that they would be harmed.
Angel grew up in a wealthy household but her adoptive mother was a little unsound of mind and kept a close eye on her daughter, not letting her out of the house very often and finally marrying her off to the first rich man who asked. Clement, on the other hand, grew up among orphaned children, along with Indians and runaway slaves. The twins are aware of each other but do not live together, yet seem to be able to communicate even though they seldom see each other.
As the Civil War comes closer to Minnesota, Stillwater becomes a stop on the Underground Railroad and black and white come together, becoming more dependent on each other. Readers will get a good look at how things were in the northern states and territories, which was just as bad, or worse than the south during the war. Most novels written about the Civil War seem to concentrate on the south and this one was interesting as it was about the northern states and what they went through.
During these difficult times, Angel and Clement, got to know each other and went in opposite directions in their lives. Minnesota, being so close to Canada, was a perfect place for a stop on the Underground Railroad. The town gives readers a look at how things were in the Civil War years in the North. The lives of many different folks come to the pages of Stillwater, including; pioneers, Indians, slaves, etc., who are all looking to better their lives. There are some difficult scenes including moms and dads, sisters and brothers, families of all kinds taking care of each other and in some cases never seeing each other again. Also, readers will need to pay close attention so as not to get lost, but as I mentioned earlier, the prose is well-written and the story is enjoyable.
Quill says: This was a look into parts of the US during the Civil War that people don’t think about so much, the Northwoods, and is a marvelous story!