By Nick K. Adams
From September of 1861 through September of 1863 the authors great great grandfather Griffen wrote at least 100 letters from the fields of battle back to the family he left behind on the southeastern Minnesota prairie. He had left his wife and three small children on their little farm while he fought to save the Union. It is a true story of survival of that family on the Minnesota frontier. And most amazingly less that fifteen minutes from where Mrs. T. and I live. Of course, I’m also familiar with the story of another pioneer woman who lived briefly in our town of Spring Valley. That was Laura Ingalls who married Almonzo of the local Wilder family. More bragging on all that later…J
While the novel tells story of the “family left behind” it is all based on one hundred letters the soldier/father wrote them during his two years of service. Those real letters describe everything he is experiencing and thinking about, as well as responding to their communications of both hardships and endurance. It is a Civil War novel as real as life can get.
The slow, terrifying waiting for news, waiting for spring, waiting for his return, touch the heart. This is a well crafted story indeed. Minerva, her three young children, alone in a shanty on the prairie, and a few nearby fellow settlers struggle to survive. Can they run a near wilderness farm like this one on the own. The three child are all 7 and under.Minnesota’s seasons dictate their activities. Away at War introduces the reader to the terrible impact, the pain and anxiety, and the untold suffering war causes family members left behind. A moving chronicle of the experience of war and a compelling story with relevant historical references. Of course, the place where this story really took place I’m very familiar with so that enhances a good story even more. If you liked Little House On The Prairie I suspect you would like this one as well….. It's a bit grittier and kept me enthralled. I don’t know if this book qualifies as a “young adult novel” but I’m sure my grandchildren would enjoy reading it and I'll love to talk to them about it this Christmas....:)
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