Synopses & Reviews
It is the spring of 1861, and the serenity of Smith County, Mississippi, has been shattered by Abraham Lincolns declaration of war on the South. Young and old are taking up arms and marching off to war. But not ten-year-old Frank Russell. Although he is eager to enlist in the Confederate army, he is not allowed. He is too young, too skinny, too weak. After all, hes just Shanks, the baby of the Russell family. War has a way of taking things away from a person, mercilessly. And this war takes from Frank a mighty sum. Its nabbed his Pa and older brother. Its stolen his grandfather, his grandmother. It has robbed Frank of a simpler way of life, food, his boyhood. And gone are his idealistic dreams of heroic battles and hard-fought victories. Now all that replaces those images are questions: Will I ever see my father and brother again? Why are we fighting this war? Are we fighting for the wrong reasons? Will things ever be the same around here?
In 1861 Frank “Shanks” Russell wishes he was old enough to fight for the South alongside his pa and big brother. But Frank is too young, skinny, and weak, and is left behind with his mother and grandparents. Life in Mississippi was simple before the war between North and South. Now Franks boyhood is gone forever, along with his dreams of heroic battles. The shortages and horrors of war reach his home as he scrounges for food and water, and sees both Confederate and enemy soldiers at their worst. As time goes by and Franks friendship with Buck, the family slave, grows, he questions more and more who is the enemy and why the terrible war is being fought.