Title: The Confederate General Rides North
Author: Amanda C. Gable
ISBN: 9781416598398, Scribner, 2009
Source: Paperback Swap
First Line: "Get up, baby," Mother says. "We're going on an adventure."
It's the 1960s, and eleven-year-old Katherine McConnell's mother is most definitely taking her daughter on an adventure. Without a word of good-bye to anyone, Kat's mother has her pack a bag and then they hop in the car for a road trip north to Boston and Cape Cod, where Margaret McConnell grew up. Margaret plans to open an antique shop, and they're going to make stops along the way to buy merchandise for the store.
Kat is dragging her feet a bit, especially when she's told that she can't say good-bye to her father or grandparents, so to sweeten the deal, her mother tells her that Kat can be in charge of the itinerary. This makes Kat's eyes shine because she daydreams of being a Confederate general in a spotless uniform riding a beautiful horse. If Kat plans the itinerary, she's going to make sure they stop at as many Civil War battlefields as they possibly can.
Mother and daughter haven't gone many miles down the road before the reader has a very strong feeling that something's up... and that Katherine McConnell is a very special eleven-year-old girl. Her obsession with the Civil War isn't the run-of-the-mill obsession of a horse-crazed tomboy. Kat uses her knowledge of the Civil War and its generals as a coping mechanism:
The Confederate general often feels very alone; after all, everything is up to her. Even if she gets advice from her staff, the decisions are hers. She can't reveal her uncertainties to anyone. Her men and her staff need to be confident in her, confident in her abilities; it wouldn't be good for them to know about the times that she is unsure and confused. To know that she questions her own resolve.
The farther the road trip progressed, the more foreboding I felt. Would an eleven-year-old be able to deal with what I felt was coming? It's been a while since I've been this involved with characters in a book, but Kat and her mother had me wound up tighter than an eight-day clock. By the end of The Confederate General Rides North, I wanted to hug the stuffin' out of Kat McConnell-- and author Amanda C. Gable. Gable's debut novel had me very emotionally involved from beginning to end, and that doesn't happen very often. I'm looking forward with great anticipation to her next book.