Sissy! — Jessica Radford Trilogy Book One
Sissy! takes place mostly in the volatile Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas, areas during the Civil War, but the characters sometimes follow some of the battle action eastward. A heaping handful of characters, men and women, black and white, Confederate and Union, heroic and heinous, are portrayed during 1862 and 1863, ending with the infamous Quantrill August raid on Lawrence. The book is written in a short “scene” format rather than traditional chapters, preceded by notations of the change of location and time, which are quite helpful to follow the action. The subject of racism is explored not only through the Underground Railroad and the abuses of slaves by their legal owners, but through the difficulties black men faced to serve in the Union forces and the prejudice against people of color among the free-staters. Women’s issues also arise naturally from the period – the nurse, the businesswoman, the educated woman of spirit who wants to fight like a man, the bravery of the women inhabitants of Lawrence who hid those on Quantrill’s “list.”
Plenty of action and historical detail here for Civil War buffs. Threaded through the plotline is the young girl of the title, who adds an inspirational element to this book that does much to lighten the otherwise dark events. Discussion questions are added at the end of the volume, as are some hints of things to come in the sequel, to be entitled All Parts Together.