FeaturedMiddle Grade

Hattie's War


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A well-researched, thoughtfully-designed historical fiction novel that speaks to middle grade and older readers in a memorable way.

Harriet “Hattie” Howell has never known her father; he left home to fight in the American Civil War before Hattie was born, and he was killed in the line of duty before he could return. The loss of her father weighs heavily on Hattie, especially as she learns more about the circumstances that led to her father’s ultimate demise. Melancholy sets in, preventing Hattie from experiencing the joy and happiness she used to take for granted. But thanks to a loving family, thoughtful letters, and her artistic ability, Hattie is able to navigate her own battles against both her sadness and society’s expectations for her as she endeavors to discover more about the man her father once was.

This intriguing story introduces readers to the American Civil War from the perspective of some of the people who were left behind. Members of the author’s own family form the foundation of the novel, and new life is breathed into them through their dialogue and interactions. Though fictional in nature, true historical events and characters are embedded within the narrative, making Hattie’s experience feel ever more real to a contemporary audience. The dialogue and setting are true to the time, utilizing colloquialisms and religious sentiments that were found in upstate New York in the late 1800s. Overall, the pacing is excellent, and the book is accessible to older middle grade readers thanks to its accessible writing style and ample white space.

Alongside the narrative, readers find frequent images both from Hattie’s own hand and from publications of the time. These visual aids anchor the story for readers who are less familiar with the American Civil War, and they make the events of that time even more palpable. Additionally, letters between Hattie and her uncles are incorporated throughout the story and provide context while breaking up the traditional narrative structure. Ample back matter gives readers a plethora of information to digest regarding Hattie’s story and the real events that led to its creation, which makes the book valuable both as a solitary read and as a tool for classroom teaching. Accessible and educational, this is a noteworthy historical fiction novel for middle grade readers.

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I review books for kids, tweens, and teens and blog about them on my website. To date, I have over 500 published reviews. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at www.maryrlanni.com to get recommendations straight to your inbox! I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews upon request.

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About the author

Hattie’s War is author, Peter Serko’s debut novel. With an uncanny knack for re-inventing himself, Peter has been a counselor, stay-at-home father of three, nurseryman, educational technology leader, professional photographer, solo performer, playwright, and filmmaker. view profile

Published on July 01, 2023

Published by

50000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Middle Grade

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