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Wednesday Reading Meme

What I’ve Just Finished Reading

Two books from the Unread Book Club! I read Irene Hunt’s Across Five Aprils, which is an account of the Civil War from the point of view of a southern Illinois farm boy on the home front, which I thought was very well done although also possibly one of those children’s books that is going to appeal more to adults than children. It gives a real sense of the powerlessness that one can feel in the face of the great events of the day, which I found painful and touching as an adult but which might not have made my little heart go pitter-patter when I was ten.

I also enjoyed the details of daily life and the complexity of the characters - the neighbor with a bad reputation who somewhat redeems himself in times of trouble; the beloved brother who goes over to the Confederate army and thus puts the family in danger from some of the angrier Union partisans in the area. Did he do right to follow his conscience knowing that might be the cost? Why the heck did his conscience lead him that way anyway? (I suspect this is a more pressing question to a reader now than in 1965 when the book was published; I think there’s much less tendency now to see the Confederacy with the romantic doomed-lost-cause luster that still held some cachet then.)

On the lighter side, I also read John Tyerman Williams’ Pooh and the Psychologists: In Which It Is Proven That Pooh Bear Is a Brilliant Psychotherapist, which was a birthday present from my friend Micky years and years ago and is the most Micky book in the history of existence, although as none of you know Micky I’m hard-pressed to explain what that means.

In any case, even though the humor is a little labored for my tastes, I will probably end up keeping this book forever just because it’s so characteristic of its giver.

What I’m Reading Now

I’ve started reading Miss Read’s Village School, which is the first of a series of charming books about English village life that I have vaguely meant to read for years because my mother has always been devoted to them. It’s very charming! I read two chapters before bed and it is just the right mixture of soothing but also interesting enough that I always look forward to it.

What I Plan to Read Next

I meant to stop buying books till I’d gone through the Unread Book Club, but then I went to a Goodwill and found Barbara Robinson’s The Best Halloween Ever for 69 cents and I really liked The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and The Best School Year Ever and… I totally bought it. So that.

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Comments

Did he do right to follow his conscience knowing that might be the cost? Why the heck did his conscience lead him that way anyway?

Are these questions ever answered in the book, or is part of the protagonist's growing simply asking them?
I don't know that the first question is exactly answerable, honestly. How high should the price be before you put aside the dictates of your conscience and knuckle under? I know some people would answer "never," but I'm not sure I would agree - although of course in this particular case, it's easy for me to think that he should have pushed his conscience aside when I think it's leading him down the wrong path anyway.

In any case, the protagonist's growth is more focused on shouldering the farm responsibilities he has to take now that all his brothers have gone off to war. No matter which side they went to, it leaves a vacuum that he needs to fill.
I don't know that the first question is exactly answerable, honestly.

I agree that in real life it's a complicated question, but in a YA novel it might have an answer—the family discussing his reasons, the brother's feelings when/if he comes back from war, the protagonist wondering if he would have done the same thing. But it sounds like it's not a major part of the novel, and I agree with you that it leaps out more now than in 1965.