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My Brother's Keeper

by Nancy Johnson

         Josh, Jeremiah, and Mattie Parish lived with their step-father after their mother died. He was alcoholic and abusive, and so the kids plotted to leave and join the Union Army. The Civil War was just getting under way, and fifteen year-old Jeremiah was old enough to be a soldier...thirteen-year old Joshua was not, but they would deal with that when they got there. They would take their sister to live with their Aunt and Uncle where she would be safe.

Josh talks his way into the job of drummer, and the boys enter the army. The training is hard, but still, the first battle is unexpectedly fierce and Jeremiah and his friend are killed in the first part of the skirmish. Josh panics, and takes off running. He considers himself a deserter, but when he is captured by the Confederates, he manages to escape and delivers important information to the Union Army.

Josh is eventually adopted by the Twentieth Maine Company led by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. The author's depiction of Colonel Chamberlain is true to the actual biography of the man, and the battles are historically accurate and realistically portrayed. Josh makes himself useful running errands, delivering messages, and finally as a medic during the battles of Little Round Top and Gettysburg. The slavery issue is touched upon and the horrendous war casualties and loss of life becomes a reality as seen through Josh's eyes.

Joshua Parish is an exciting character; sympathetic and realistic. This action packed story is one that readers will long remember and would be great to read for family time. It is sure to generate meaningful discussions about our history and the horrors of war. My Brother's Keeper should be in every school library to enhance history curriculum.

The Book

Down East Books
December 25, 1997
0892724331 / 978-0892724338
Fiction / tweeners & up
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The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2010
© 2010