I’ve been doing a lot of reading these past few weeks. And now it’s time to tell you what I think!
Soldier’s Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, a Civil War Hero
Summary: This story was about Sarah Emma Edmonds, aka Frank Thompson, a traveling book salesman, Union soldier, war nurse, sometimes spy, and all around American. The book looks at the juxtaposition of horrors and boredom of war, the trials and tribulations of friendship, and one woman’s journey to self-discovery as she portrays a man. Sarah narrates the novel in first person, as she views it, her thoughts, actions, and perceptions shape the action. The reader sees her battling with her biggest secret; we sympathize with her as she works through the horrendous conditions of a field nurse in the Civil war, the tension of spying on the Confederacy, being captured and escaping an ambush; we laugh and cry with her as she makes and loses friends.
What I liked: I liked that this book didn’t glorify the war. It didn’t shy away from the horrors, but wasn’t overly gratuitous with violence. Sarah is likeable, if disparaging about her appearance, though that might have to do with her double identity. How Moss talked about comradery and the way men connect on the battlefield brought up the same types of feelings I had when I watched HBO’s Band of Brothers. There is a specific bond that connects soldiers during wartime, one that goes beyond friendship and love. I felt that in this story. The writing was neat, without too much redundancy; of course there was bound to be some, as there are only so many ways one can describe the conditions of the battlefield.
I also really liked that there wasn’t too much embellishment throughout the story, and that Moss stuck with her source. The one embellishment she did make was the only problem I had with the story (see below).
What I didn’t like: It almost felt like a let-down that Sarah had feelings for a fellow soldier, it was predictable. I liked how strong of a character Sarah was, despite her insecurities and her fears, or perhaps because of them. She felt real. But, when she developed feelings for fellow nurse and soldier Jerome, it felt a little forced, almost like that was the part of her life that was the lie.
All in all, I would recommend this book to civil war fans, war story fans, and girls who like strong characters. Ages 11-14.