Reviews for Red Moon at Sharpsburg
Booklist Reviews 2007 April #2
Her school shuttered at the outbreak of the Civil War, India Moody, a 12-year-old Southerner, receives tutoring in natural sciences from progressive Emory Trimble, who encourages the smart, restless girl to aim for college. Soon enough, though, India must set aside her ambitions to shoulder the traditional burdens of women in wartime--nursing the wounded, comforting the grieving, stoically enduring even as her "heart tears down its middle seam." India's fierce hopes and restrained romance with Emory will hold readers, as will images etched by Wells' poetic, forceful writing, including unflinching scenes of the battlefield at Antietam, where bodies "blacken and bloat like sausages." An author's note and bibliographic note conclude, although neither address one unforgettable moment of magical realism in which green lights rise from the chests of dead soldiers: "Emerald stars . . . spill from the fallen men as far as a person can see." In a novel so clearly grounded in historical accuracy, readers will certainly wonder if this vivid scene has any factual basis. The overall impact of the novel is a potent call for peace and decency in any era, as well as a welcome representation of the Southern civilian experience for young adults. ((Reviewed April 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
India Moody, a harness maker's daughter, bears witness to the Civil War and yearns for a better life. Wells adopts an elegiac tone, touched with just enough country to convey place and time. Despite Wells's tendency to use dialogue as set pieces, this is an affecting tale whose precise, poetic language wrings a maximum of emotion out of every word. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #3
As the War Between the States tramples its way across northern Virginia, India Moody, a harness maker's daughter, bears witness and yearns for a better life. Wells adopts an elegiac tone in India's present-tense narration, which is touched with just enough country to draw readers thoroughly into its place and time. As she watches friends and her father march off to war, she must grapple with the necessity of supporting her family and her desire to pursue an education. The war, which visits her over and over as troops march through and soldiers die on her kitchen table, is realized in detail just graphic enough to allow readers to feel India's shock, horror, and grief. India's only respite is the tutoring sessions she enjoys with the local plantation owner's oldest son, whose asthma prevents him from enlisting; these moments have alchemical intensity as India learns the secrets of science and falls in love. Despite Wells's tendency to use dialogue as set pieces meant to lead the reader into a greater understanding of war and human nature, this is an affecting tale whose precise, poetic language wrings a maximum of emotion out of every word. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 March #2
Three promises precede the birth of India Moody in 1848, and everything that follows in India's wartime experience comes from those promises--two kept, one broken. The Civil War comes to India's home in the Shenandoah Valley and, by its end, northern Virginia is a charred and desolate land, and India's life is forever changed. India is a memorable character, so well drawn she seems to leap from the pages of the period letters and diaries upon which Wells based her tale. She studies chemistry with Emory Trimble, witnesses the battle of Antietam and dreams of studying science at Oberlin College. Thorough research is neatly woven into this epic tale of war, romance, faith, science and promise without ever overwhelming the telling, and India is a feisty heroine making her way into a new world forged by the fires of war. A grand historical novel of exceptional scale and depth. (author's note) (Fiction. 12+) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 April #2
Wells (Wingwalker ) once again brings a historical period to life, this time the Civil War era in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. "It is July 30, 1861. I, India Moody am twelve years old," announces the confident narrator. The war brings with it countless sacrifices (Julia, India's best friend moves to Ohio to wait out the war) and tragedies (the destruction of the land), along with the death of her beloved father. When her school closes, India's neighbor Emory Trimble tutors her ("smart as a snake, but too rattle-chested from his asthma to be more than a Sunday soldier"). Although India is expected to learn "scriptures, household economics, handwriting, declamation," she hungers for knowledge of science ("It is like... firelight to me") and strives to attend Oberlin College in Ohio, which Julia has told her accepts women. India is not unlike another of the author's determined heroines, Mary Breckenridge (the subject of Wells's biography, Mary on Horseback ): when Emory later helps the medics and goes missing, India searches for him and along the way secretly saves a Yankee soldier. Her act of kindness leads to an unexpected opportunity. Wells's prose often says more than facts could ("Like a child's tantrum suddenly over with, there is a thick after-battle stillness in the air"). By story's end, India has become a woman, on her way to achieving both educational and romantic success--a testament to her tenacious spirit. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) [Page 54]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2007 March
Gr 7 Up-- One word describes 13-year-old India Moody--perseverance. She has heard of a college in Ohio that accepts women and is determined to go there, an unthinkable dream for a girl in 1862. She is tutored by her neighbor, Emory Trimble, an eccentric scientist who teaches her about biology and chemistry, and with whom she later forms a romantic relationship. When her father, an ambulance wagon driver for the Confederate Army, is missing in action, she sets off to find him, ending up in the middle of the Battle of Antietam, one of the bloodiest of the war. She faces danger as the Union Army advances toward her home in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and sees soldiers leave her town and not return. She witnesses Micah and Ester, slaves and friends of the Trimbles, harbor an injured Yankee soldier, putting their own lives in danger. Wells has created a sense of what the North and the South endured during the Civil War by interweaving stories from both sides, and gives a horrifying picture of medical practices and superstitions of the times. This powerful novel is unflinching in its depiction of war and the devastation it causes, yet shows the resilience and hope that can follow such a tragedy. India is a memorable, thoroughly believable character who faces many losses, yet readers are confident that she will follow her dream and attend Oberlin College.--Shannon Seglin, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA [Page 220]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 April
In this novel of the Civil War, twelve-year-old India Moody and her community of Berryville, Virginia, are buzzing with pride over the men and boys who are volunteering to join regiments that they believe will defeat Northern forces. Even more exciting for India, however, is her discovery of science, which she absorbs like a sponge, despite her mother's admonitions that she cannot learn what is considered to be men's work. Her passion eventually motivates India to aim for college, an unusual step for women at the time. This premise of an old world collapsing in the wake of new ideas is a recurring theme of the novel. The imagery of the story is excellent. In a gripping account of the aftermath of the Battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland, India sees "thousands of mouse-colored mounds" of dead soldiers and learns that an unsavory consequence of death is a state where "only a drunk can stand the smell." Under a crescent moon that "sits like a bloody smile in the sky," India tries "to see through the mist that spirals up from the earth . . . it rises off hundreds of dead and dying soldiers." Sensitive readers may grimace at the blunt imagery of corpses, but the descriptions are not gratuitous. They are enveloped by a poetic awareness that endows the story with a remarkable depth of feeling. Despite an abrupt ending, this beautiful novel has the potential to become a classic.-Christina Fairman 5Q 4P M J Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.