HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Best Friends: Beth Keeps Her Promise, 1861-1865
Author: Sandy Andrews
Cover Designer: Sara Schapker
Publisher: Cordon Publications, 2011
Related website: http://www.cordonpublications.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(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 13 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Andrews, Sandy. Best Friends: Beth Keeps Her Promise, 1861-1865 (published in 2011 by Cordon Publications, 731-C Erie Ave., Evansville, IN 47715). In the first “Best Friends” book, it is 1860, and fourteen year old Beth Taylor from Savannah, GA, is visiting for the summer with her cousin Rae Edgewood near Mt. Vernon, IL. There she meets Rae’s friends, Dawn Jefferson, a free black girl, and Zane Brown, a neighbor boy. Also, she begins to oppose slavery when, with the help of Night Hawk, an Indian boy, they assist a group of runaway slaves to flee north. As Beth prepares to return home, she promises the others to do everything she can to help slaves escape. When this sequel opens, it is now 1861, and the War Between the States has begun.
Zane is now a soldier in the Union army. Dawn has gone south to work with the Underground Railroad. Rae stays home to help her family, along with the Jeffersons and Mr. Grant. And Beth keeps her promise. However, there are spies everywhere in Savannah, Confederate patrols are all over the southern countryside, and the fighting between North and South is fierce. Will Beth be found out and get caught? Will Dawn be captured? Will Zane survive the battles? Anyone who likes romantic historical fiction about young people set in the Civil War era will find this book interesting. There are a few references to dancing, smoking a pipe, and growing “bacca,” as well as a story about an out-of-wedlock birth, though it is handled very discreetly. No bad language is used.
While it really doesn’t take anything away from my recommendation of the story, Beth Keeps Her Promise could have used a good editor’s proofreading. I try not to be a grammar Nazi and normally don’t pay a whole lot of attention to an occasional typographical or grammatical error, but this book is literally filled with them, mostly common mistakes [corrections in brackets]. “Night Hawk was laying [lying] there on his blankets….Dawn laid [lay] there on her stomach….They were all getting a little board [bored]….I found a place we can sneak threw [through] the guards….Our spies tell us their [they’re] starting to weaken….The group didn’t want him going by his self [himself]….The skin will make your hair shinny [shiny]….Roasting over and [an] open pit….Give the brides there [their] wedding rings.” Otherwise, it is a very heartwarming and exciting tale, with a good dash of romance and some surprising twists at the end.