Brotherhood

Anne Westrick, Author
A.B. Westrick. Viking, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-670-01439-2
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 09/12/2013
Paperback - 360 pages - 978-0-14-242237-3
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Westrick makes an impressive debut with this post–Civil War novel, set in Richmond, Va., told from the point of view of self-proclaimed Confederate son and “good old boy” Shadrach Weaver. A skilled tailor’s assistant, 14-year-old Shad is dyslexic and plays second fiddle to his “hothead” older brother, Jeremiah, since their father died at Gettysburg. Circumstances bring Shad into contact with the liberally minded Perkinson household, in which black servants and children are not just treated as equals, but educated. Invited to trade sewing lessons for reading lessons, he uneasily accepts. Shad’s initial shock at his situation turns to appreciation, creating a turbulent conflict between his growing feelings for the black teachers and children and his loyalty to the Ku Klux Klan, to which he has recently sworn allegiance, even as he recoils from its cruel actions. Readers will undoubtedly be taken aback by Shad’s hatred of Yankees and contempt for blacks, but Westrick generally achieves her goal of capturing Shad’s “emerging capacity to question his circumstances,” while drawing a vivid picture of the embittered, violent environment of 1867 Richmond. Ages 10–up. Agent: Leigh Feldman, Writers House. (Sept.)
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