Uncertain Glory

Written by Lea Wait
Review by Joanne Dobson

April 1861: Ambitious young Joe Wood, newspaper owner by the age of 14, reports first-hand the impact upon Wiscasset, Maine, his beloved hometown, of the rumors of impending war with the nation’s southern states. But rumors all-too-soon turn to reality, and war’s declaration hits close to home as fathers and brothers answer Lincoln’s call to enlist, turning individual and family lives topsy-turvy.

Middle-grade readers will enjoy the focus on mid-teens forced too soon into young adulthood. Family changes, financial burdens, racial and political strife complicate the already pressing urgencies of adolescence for the young editor and his friends. I liked Nell, the twelve-year-old spiritualist who communicates with the dead and Owen, Joe’s nine-year-old assistant, whose racial identity suddenly matters in this northern New-England town more than it ever did before. Especially appealing are Joe’s hastily printed broadsides and newspaper pages, reproduced convincingly here in mid-nineteenth-century typeface.

A well-told, authoritatively researched, novel, Uncertain Glory will transport young readers to a time and place where, although Maine was not a battlefield state, the Civil War made urgent demands on everyone in their hearts and in their homes.