cover image Three Against the Tide

Three Against the Tide

D. Anne Love. Holiday House, $15.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1400-0

This Civil War novel starts off at a clip and sustains its fast pace. The 12-year-old narrator, Susanna Simons, has been brought up to be ladylike and yet also to aspire to become a doctor, like her widower father. When Dr. Simons heeds an urgent call to tend wounded Confederate soldiers, Susanna is left to command the family's South Carolina island plantation and look after her two younger brothers--until Yankees seal off the island and all the slaves and neighboring families flee. Susanna and her brothers, escaping in a flatbed boat, are rescued from raging waters by the fleeing Elias, one of her father's most trusted slaves. Torn between feeling betrayed by Elias's flight and her dawning understanding of his desire for freedom, Susanna and her brothers begin to question slavery, their values and their way of life. The adventures continue, taking readers to the Simonses' Charleston mansion and through the razing of that city, and then on Susanna and her brothers' dangerous journey to find their father. The novel's tribute to extinct Southern gentility can seem artificial as well as sentimental, but readers will revel in the three protagonists' bravery and spirit. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)