An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi.
Gulliver Books/Harcourt Brace & Company: NY, 1997.

As her mother lays dying, Emily plans to move in with her best friend Annie Surratt. Her plans are ended by the assassination of President Lincoln and the suspicion of the Surratt family's guilt. Emily's Uncle Valentine (a local doctor and anatomy teacher) saves her from becoming entangled in the conspiracy, only to expose her to his own illegal activities.

Emily does not know how to help Annie with the horror of her mother's imprisonment and impending execution. She wants to stand by Annie despite her uncle's demand that she go nowhere near the Surratt boarding house. However, since moving in with her uncle, she is distracted by the unsavory graverobbing practices of her uncle and his associates. When a schoolmate forces her to admit the truth, she feels betrayed. She also is concerned that one of his patients is being held as a prisoner and tries to rectify the situation.

The Civil War and the Lincoln assassination magnified the physicians' awareness of the need to study anatomy. There were, however, few bodies to be had legally, so emerging medical schools took matters into their own hands. This theme shares an equal part of the story with the Surratts' relationship to John Wilkes Booth and their experiences as a result. The focus on the Surratts is of particular interest to me since it seems they were guilty mostly by association and sympathy (not enough to hang someone-although Johnny was certainly involved in Confederate plotting). Dishonesty, different points-of-view, and strength of character are more subtle factors in the book.

I found the book to be surprising and compelling. Rinaldi takes some tiny (yet sensational) themes and weaves them around a young adult's struggle with relationships and morality. She also inspires thought about the complications of living during the Civil War period without it controlling the whole story.
related-body snatching, physicians, Lincoln assassination conspiracy, Washington, D.C., Civil War, 1861-1865, the trial and hanging of Mary Surratt, secessionists

RSS Add to Stumble It! Add to Technorati Favorites
Email Updates
Kickstart Reading/50+ Transitional Books
Horizons Transitional Books
Horizons Transitional Books
BookAdvice Crosswords
Follow minerva66 at Twitter
Knock Your Socks Off Challenge

Recent NTugo Network Posts

    ©2006-2016 Advice, banner, and coding help given by Redwall_hp. Established May 2006.