HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Lighthouse Loyalty
Author: Sarah Kay Bierle
Cover Illustrator: Cheryl Schoenberger
Publisher: Gazette665, 2017
Related website: http://www.Gazette665.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bierle, Sarah Kay. Lighthouse Loyalty (published in 2017 by Gazette665). It is 1867, and nine-year-old Susannah (Susan) Rose Arnold lives with her father Samuel, mother Harriet, two younger brothers Jacob, six, and Paul, five, and baby sister Marian. Mr. Arnold is a lighthouse keeper, and the family has just moved from their previous lighthouse on Lake Erie to a bigger one at Herdman Point on Long Island Sound. They are joined by Mama’s brother, Uncle Richard Bates, whom Susan is meeting for the first time, as assistant lighthouse keeper. However, Uncle Richard is morose and somewhat uncommunicative. It seems as if he is keeping some deep, dark secrets. Susan misses her best friends Jane and Anna terribly, so she decides that if her uncle can have a secret, she can keep her loneliness a secret too and starts to write poetry to cover it up.
However, Father’s boss, Inspector Milton, and the visiting Miss Elsie Sherman, whose father has come to the lighthouse to paint the scenery, both seem to have some connection to Uncle Richard’s mysterious past. Could any of his secrets be related to the recently ended Civil War? Will these secrets tear Susan’s family apart? Or can they find some way to deal with them so as to bring them closer together and strengthen their loyalty? Author Sarah Kay Bierle is a historian, writer, and living history enthusiast who was homeschooled K-12, completed an accelerated distance learning program for college, graduated from Thomas Edison State University with a B.A. in History, and currently serves as co-managing editor for the Emerging Civil War blog. Her first two historical books were Gray and Crimson: A Story of Civilian Courage at Gettysburg (2015) which won an award for YA Fiction at Southern California Book Festival, and With Gladness: A Christmas Story Collection (2016).
Lighthouse Loyalty is great, family-friendly historical fiction from a Biblical world-view, and its plot is enhanced by a touch of intrigue. There are a couple of references to dancing and smoking pipes or cigars. However, the main characters read the Bible, pray, and talk about the importance of trusting in God. While the Arnold family and Herdman Point are fictional, there is a concluding section of “Author’s Historical Notes.” Sarah told me, “As a historian, I’ve been interested and researching lighthouse for several years, working with historian Robert Munson at Cabrillo National Monument (Old Point Loma Lighthouse) to develop a well-researched historical fiction novel about lighthouse families. We noticed a lack of young adult information about lighthouses and are attempting to fill that void with an inspiring story and accurate information.” This book gets two thumbs up from me.