Annie Between the States

Written by L.M. Elliott
Review by Teresa Basinski Eckford

Set in Virginia during the American Civil War, Annie Between the States tells of a young girl’s coming of age. While helping her mother treat the wounded from Manassas, Annie Sinclair meets a Yankee soldier who both intrigues and challenges her. Throughout the course of the war he periodically reappears, growing more important to her with each visit. At the same time, Annie copes with the increasingly difficult conditions on her family’s farm, her mother’s illness, her younger brother’s rebellion, and, most frightening of all, continued raids by Yankees. When faced with the loss of a close friend, Annie takes action that results in her arrest.

Though a good story lies at the heart of this historically accurate second novel from L.M. Elliott, it is lost amidst an overstuffed narrative and a good number of stereotypical secondary characters. The dialogue was especially problematic, with many of the characters uttering impossibly long and often unrealistic speeches. I fear that in this day and age, when teens expect instant gratification, many will set the book down quickly.

On the positive side, the setting is beautifully rendered, and I genuinely cared about Annie, even if she did strike me as a little silly at times. And the story itself, when given its chance to shine in the final third of the book, is very appealing and timeless. I just wish the author had been able to curb her seeming desire to insert all her research, thus slowing the pace. That said, I intend to keep this book for my nieces because it illustrates how horribly devastating war can be, and the human spirit’s ability to rise above it. No small feat. (Ages 12+)