HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Best Friends: Southern Indiana, Summer of 1860
Author: Sandy Andrews
Cover Illustrator: Sara Schapker
Publisher: AuthorHouse, 2010
Related website: http://www.authorhouse.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 12-16
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Andrews, Sandy. Best Friends: Southern Indiana, Summer of 1860 (published in 2010 by AuthorHouse, 1663 Liberty Dr., Bloomington, IN 47403). It is 1860. Thirteen year old Rae Edgewood lives on a farm in southern Indiana by the Wabash River about fifteen miles from Harmonie (now New Harmony) near Mt. Vernon with her father Andrew, mother Anna, and younger brothers Alan, nine, and Lee, seven. Her best friend is thirteen year old Dawn, a free black girl who lives nearby with her father Thomas, mother Dolly, younger sisters Doris, eight, and Bree, three, and her grandparents. Another neighbor is sixteen year old Zane Brown who lives with his widower father Grant. Rae’s favorite cousin, fourteen year old Beth Taylor, daughter of Anna’s sister Denise, is coming to visit for several weeks while her parents are in Chicago, IL, on business.
The Taylors live on a plantation near Savannah in Georgia and own many slaves, while the Edgewoods are clearly anti-slavery. There is much talk among the adults about the upcoming presidential election, the sharp division in the nation over slavery, and the possibility of civil war. What will Beth think of Rae’s friendship with Dawn and her family? And how will the kids react when on a leisurely walk in the woods they come across Stella, Rob, and Jewel, three orphaned slave children who have run away and are trying to escape to freedom? This delightful story about young people and their enduring friendships is filled with historical references and would make a good literary complement to a study of the Underground Railroad.
The book will enlighten readers about several aspects of the Civil War, slavery, and the feelings of both Northern and Southern people. There is one common euphemism (darn), and one reference to dancing occurs. However, it is obvious that the Edgewoods and their neighbors are God-fearing people who attend church services regularly, read the Bible, and believe in prayer. And if people enjoy reading the adventures of Rae, Beth, Dawn, and Zane, they’ll want to watch for their story to continue in Best Friends: Beth Keeps Her Promise, in which Beth keeps her promise to help slaves run away to freedom, Rae and Dawn help when the slaves get to Indiana, and Zane serves as a secret service agent for the North. Best Friends: Southern Indiana, Summer of 1860 is a wonderful step back in time.