The Last Full Measure
The year is 1863, and war has engulfed the country. Fourteen-year-old Tacy Stryker is facing the biggest challenges of her young life as the armies of the North and the South collide in her hometown of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She is desperately worried about her two older brothers and her father, who are all out on the battlefield --- her brothers as soldiers and her father as a doctor. Weeks go by without any word; she doesn’t know if they are dead or alive.
Tacy is also painfully confused about her other brother, David. The two of them used to be good friends, but lately he is always angry and sometimes even downright mean. She knows part of his anger is due to the riding accident from a few years ago that left his leg twisted and crippled. He desperately wants to join the army, to do his part for his country, but the army won’t take him. So he’s stuck at home, left in charge of Tacy and his mother’s welfare, and determined to keep Tacy out of trouble.
Then the war arrives at their doorstep. The citizens of Gettysburg cower in their homes, praying to avoid stray bullets and exploding cannons. The wounded and dying litter the streets, and desolate soldiers from both sides are banging on doors. Tacy’s friend, Marvelous, hides in the cellar for fear of being captured by the Rebels and taken south for slavery. The old man from down the road also asks to hide in their cellar for fear of being alone. Tacy and her mother, along with the other women in town, prepare food for the soldiers and care for the thousands of wounded. Everyone prays for the end, but life will never be the same for those who manage to survive one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
Ann Rinaldi is well known for her authentic visits to the past. In THE LAST FULL MEASURE, she takes a unique look at the famous Battle of Gettysburg, focusing on how it affects one teen and her family. She digs into her research to get both the details of daily living, and the names and stats of the battle. Her characters really shine with vivid personality, dramatic distinctiveness and heartfelt authenticity. The story is exciting and moves along at a good pace, spiced with a bit of romance and danger. Rinaldi has an amazing gift for bringing the past to life and for creating characters just struggling to survive.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on November 15, 2010