Elise tries hard to cheer up her best friend, Vera, whose father died and brother is currently fighting in the war. Elise comes up with an idea to put on a play, a comedy, for her birthday and invite the public to come attend. She feels that a bit of laughter and smiling is the best medicine during these war times. Vera agrees and they have a splendid time. The play was so successful that they were asked to perform for the injured and ill veterans at the hospital. Elise is unsure she can emotionally handle seeing the injured and frail men, but she soon discovers there will be bigger decisions she needs to make.
A man has been disowned by the town and lives as a hermit, unable to purchase food or services. His son had gone to fight for the South in honor of his later mother, and the Northerners in Cincinnati treated the father left behind as a traitor. Elise keeps her distance while trying to reach out to the lonely man. One day when she finds he is in need of urgent help and she is the only person near enough, Elise has to decide what is most important and she faces unexpected consequences when her friend, Vera, discovers what decision she's made.
This book was well-written. While it does describe some of the tragedies of war, the descriptions are not drawn out and overly graphic. I chose to paraphrase one part which simply stated there had likely been countless amputations performed on the battlefield because my 6-year-old is sensitive and imaginative and it was bedtime. I simply replaced the word "amputations" with "operations" so as not to pique his curiosity. I appreciate how compassionately Elise dealt with her friend Vera's reactions and behaviors which were out of proportion, but such is often the case when one has been or is going through traumatic times. Lincoln was spoken of highly throughout the book, mainly in regards to his desire to reunite the nation and offer forgiveness not only to the Southern states which has seceded, but also to men who had left the war as deserters.
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