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Across Five Aprils Book Review

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Across Five Aprils is a fictional novel based on the five-year civil war that occurred in our country. The main character goes by the name of Jethro Creighton, who in the beginning of the novel is a nine-year-old boy. Jethro lives on a farm in Southern Illinois with his mom, dad, sister, and four older brothers who are all close to their 20s. The time is April, 1861. War is imminent in the beginning of the novel between two parts of the country- the North and the South. President Abraham Lincoln doesn’t know which side of the nation to support and refuses week after week to start this war.

People are getting angry at him and tensions between the two sides are boiling till it pops. The Confederates of the South then fire on Fort Sumter and the war begins. Jethro, not knowing the reality of war, is excited and curious. But soon Jethro regrets his excitement when all his brothers, his cousin, and his favorite school teacher, Shadrach Yale have to go off to fight. Jethro is then left all alone to take care of the huge farm when his father has a severe heart attack.

After three years, all citizens lose faith in the war and are looking for peace. Everyone trusts that the President will be able to unite the nation. But in 1865, however, the President is assassinated and hopes for a happy ending are scattered. The whole nation is in woe and Jethro wonders if there ever will be peace in the US again. Background Irene Hunt is the author of many historical books written for young people. She was born in Southern Illinois and has received degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Minnesota.

Across Five Aprils was her first novel and its purpose was to give the overall historical background of the civil war by mixing it with diverse characters to make this event in history interesting. The theme of this novel deals with the reality and the unpredictability of wars and this relates to Civics because due to this war, our country became united again and the 13th Amendment was passed in Congress that abolished slavery. This novel, written in 1964, still remains intact with the times today, however Across Five Aprils is not a series book.

And amazingly Irene Hunt got most of the information she wrote on the Creightons from her deceased grandfather, and it was he who inspired her to write this novel. Summary Across Five Aprils deals with a war started over slavery. But the major cause seems to be over the ownership of land and money. During those times people of the North worked in factories and had industrial jobs to try to get rich, while folks down South were cotton growers that needed slave labor to be able to earn money.

The Southerners were wealthier than the Northerners, so this caused some tension, especially when Southern states withdrew from the Union. The abolitionists were angered over slavery when the South started to get wealthier and as they never cared about slavery before, they stayed angered and eventually the whole nation split in two and hatred began till burning point. And so the war started and hundreds of thousands of casualties resulted from this war. The overall theme of this novel is that war is not always as exciting and predictable as it seems.

When Jethro first heard of the war, he viewed it as an adventurous opportunity compared to the boring farmers’ life he was used to. He expected, like everyone else in Illinois at the time, for the war to be short and for the North to win. The author seems to favor the North seeing as how she made the main character, Jethro, side with the North and with the Union. Irene Hunt also seems to express her views, that war has its price and that peace is not always perfect (President is assassinated), with great details.

In this novel the author seems to paint a sad type of image of this historical event, and while trying to convince her readers the seriousness of war, Hunt at the same time gives an optimistic close at the end of the novel for the future of US citizens. Evaluation Across Five Aprils is an extraordinary book worth its read. The author has written this novel in such a way, as to cause the reader to be able to experience and feel the emotions of the people during the war. While most historical accounts of the civil war are boring, Hunt’s novel is exciting due to the multiple characters she has created to explain the war.

I think there is no other book that is as enjoyable and educational at the same time as this one. This book was very satisfying to me and I learned a lot of things from it. One of the things being that even if you’re not fighting in a war that’s happening in your country, you can still be greatly affected. Even though this is a really great story and book, there are, however, some limits. One of them being the author’s biasness. She chose to write this story from a farmer’s point of view based on her origins (Jethro also lives in a state that favors the North).

This novel would be totally different if it were being told by a Southerner. Another thing is the writing and dialogue of the characters in this book. Being farmers, Jethro and his family have an accent that makes it hard to understand at times. But overall, the plot was terrific and the author really did fulfill her purpose of explaining the civil war in a great way for young people to understand. This book taught me that Presidents really have a hard job in deciding and ruling over the country in war and playing the role of commander in chief.

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