Saturday, October 8, 2011

Avery's Crossroad by Deanna K. Klingel

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: Oct. 6, 2011 

The saga of Avery Junior Bennett and his hound dog Gunner continues into 1863 through 1865 in book two of this young adult Civil War series. Time and war age our young hero who finds himself at a moral, emotional, and political crossroad in his daily routine of doctoring during this cruel and punishing war. Serving the injured on both sides of the conflict, Avery is empathetic, yet stalwart. His feelings toward Claire, the nurse and friend always beside him, prove to be one of Avery's most puzzling challenges. Gunner, however, has his master all figured out. Mapping the war for his patient's on a piece of butcher paper, hung on the hospital wall, readers will follow the advance to the fall of Richmond along with Avery, mourn the loss of a president amid the jubilation of a Union restored, and shed tears of joy as the soldiers and their doctor find their way home in 1865.

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I am a huge fan of anything that makes the past interesting to young readers. As such, I really appreciate what Klingel was trying to do here. The Civil War was a defining moment in American history and an era that provides more than enough material for compelling fiction. Avery's Crossroad has a great premise and an exciting setting but I had a lot of trouble with the execution. Again, I am significantly older than the target audience, still, I think even adolescent readers will have trouble with this one.

Klingel has a wonderful grasp of the events but they hit reader in such quick succession that they begin to run together. The story needed more narrative between each juncture to flesh it out. Avery's story is nearly lost in a sea of factual information and period references. These aspects are the marks of great historic fiction but there needs to be a balance between story and setting. Avery's Crossroad has an abundance of one, a fact that makes the lack of the other all the more frustrating.

Maybe it is because I couldn't get into the writing. Maybe it is because I didn't read the preceding novel. Maybe it is because I don't belong to the target demographic. Whatever the reason, Avery's Crossroad didn't speak to me.       

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I thought the doctoring would be more about living. Now with the war, doctoring is mostly about dying. I really do get discouraged and depressed with all this... this dying.
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2 comments:

Squeak - MamaMouse said...

Hi! Just stopping in from 'More than Just a Rating' group over at GoodReads. I love your site layout.

Dorothy - The Alaskan Bookie
Blog ~ http://alaskanbookie.blogspot.com/
Twitter ~ http://twitter.com/AkChocoholic

The Flashlight Reader said...

Thank you!!! :)

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