The Confederate General Rides North
Eleven-year-old Katherine McConnell is obsessed with the Civil War, particularly the Confederate side. She frequently daydreams about being a Confederate general. When her mother asks her to run away on an extended antique-collecting road trip for a yet-to-be established store, Kat says goodbye to her pets, denies any inner trepidation she has about not saying good bye to other family members, and heads off for adventure. Their travels from Marietta, Georgia, to Maine will take them through Boston, her mother’s east coast childhood home, and near many major Civil War battlefields and museums. Kat, who is tasked with mapping their route, convinces her mom to let her visit Civil War attractions while her mom negotiates for antiques. Here, her Civil War fantasies help her ignore the truth about her mother’s true intentions for their journey.
Using creative circumstances, Gable illustrates the mother/daughter relationship at the point when the child recognizes the parent’s flaws. Kat’s inner war reenactments and communions with historical military figures offer her the type of escape that other kids find in fantasies filled with more mundane scenarios. Kat’s attitude changes, too. As she learns more about both sides of the Civil War, it becomes harder for her to continue her reverence of the Confederate side.
Filled with tidbits about the Civil War and set in the 1970s, this novel will engage any young reader with a penchant for history. This coming-of-age novel may help readers understand their own complicated family relationships, too.