Last in a Long Line of Rebels
Written by Lisa Lewis Tyre
Lost Confederate gold? Enough to save a house from being sold? What else would kids possibly need to get them excited about school being out for the summer?
Poor Lou is the junk man’s daughter. The house and yard are a mess and about to be taken over by the town as eminent domain. Friends in town slow the process down by trying to get the house, a remnant from the Civil War, on the National Registry of Historic Places.
In the meantime, suspicious people and happenings turn up all around the town. A researcher signs out and keeps the one book in the library than might answer some questions. Lou discovers a hidden room behind the bookcase where slaves may have been hidden as they traveled the Underground Railroad.
Adding to her worries about moving to a new house, new town, new school, is the embarrassment of learning her family actually owned slaves in the past. When Lou discovers an old diary written during the Civil War years, some questions begin to get answered.
Voice is the dominate strength of this book. It is so well established that a reader feels like an eavesdropper on Lou, her family and friends. Teachers should use this as a prime example of well-developed voice as they fulfill the core curriculum standards in literacy, English, and the American Civil War. While this is historical fiction, it is an excellent example of how the war was seen through the eyes of some townspeople, and how it changed their lives. It also illustrates how families even today are often still marked by the place their ancestors held in town.
Grade four, grade five, grade six and grade seven readers will giggle at Lou’s prayer for an exciting summer, and then see her hope the excitement calms down. Great friendship is reflected in Benzer’s loyalty to Lou through all the goings on, including sneaking into a hotel room and driving a dump truck into the fiction section of the public library.
This is just a perfect mix of intrigue, humor, and longing to belong. It is recommended for all school and public libraries, as well as for book clubs.