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Annie, Between the States
Transcript of Annie, Between the States
IRA Teachers’ Choice
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
Virginia Readers’ Choice, finalist 2006-2007
A Pennsylvania School Librarian Association YA “Top 40”
Junior Library Guild Y+ Selection
Possible censorship issues: The graphic detail in which some battle scenes are described could be considered a little violent for young readers, but as the intended audience is sixth grade and up I believe this book is still appropriate for readers. Major Themes: The book Annie, Between States contained many themes. Such as the power of love which is clearly shown through the love Annie and Thomas have for each other despite being on opposite sides of the war. The theme of strength of family is shown well through the many examples in the book when Annie put her own life in danger in order to protect the members of her family. The drive for freedom, which is a prominent theme throughout the book, is shown in many ways such as some of the family slaves leaving and the original reason for Laurence fighting in the war. Another theme seen in the book is the empowerment to do what you morally believe is right. This theme is seen well in the actions of Annie as she battles with the moral dilemmas of what is right in regards to herself, her family, and her country. Story synopsis : The book Annie, Between States is the story of Annie and her life seen from her eyes during the turbulent years of the Civil War. At the beginning of the book Annie is a naive seventeen years old girl whose biggest concern was getting back to her family estate of Hickory Heights in Virginia to go ride her beloved horse Angel. Annie’s naivety is quickly lost when she is visiting her aunt and has to help care for wounded enemy soldiers in the first Battle of Bull Run, the first battle of the Civil War. It was while tending to Union soldiers that we meet Lieutenant Thomas Walker and get a hint of the moral and ethical struggles that will become commonplace in Annie’s life. Annie states that her older brother, Laurence, is not fighting to keep slavery and Thomas responds with, “No? Are you sure, miss? Do you have any slaves?” Though Annie’s family owns slaves, she considers them family, but this does not dissuade her guilt at the institution she knows that slavery has become in the South.
Annie’s life returns to a somewhat resemblance of normal as she returns to Hickory Heights where she lives with her younger brother, Jamie, and mother who has come to run the estate since that passing of her husband and two sons ten years early due to sickness. As the war rages on we see the increased struggle to provide for the family due to the harsh conditions and the marauding of the soldiers of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Annie begins to fail in her struggles to keep the ever impetuous Jamie out of the war and now must take over her mother’s duties as diphtheria leaves her in a permanently bedridden condition. Annie has become involved in the war herself as she informs Confederate officers about Union plans in order to keep her brothers and home safe.
Throughout all of this Annie has been growing up before her time but some things war can’t speed up such as school girl crushes. Annie despite her distain for Thomas Walker can’t quite rid him from her thoughts especially when his mother sends her family a package from him to thank them for their care when he was injured. The package includes a book of his favorite poetry which has always been a love of Annie’s. Laurence’s commander, General Stuart, also becomes another one of Annie’s naive crushes as he shows her extra attention after she provides him with information and impresses him with her courage. It is at this point in her life that we see her truly begin to mature into a woman emotionally as she rids herself of her foolish girlhood crushes when she realizes that Stuart is married. Even before finding out this information Annie had begun to focus her attention on a man, Captain William Farley, who her brother Laurence had correctly pointed out as a kindred spirit when it comes to poetry and other pursuits. The death of William in battle hits Annie extremely hard and makes her truly see the senselessness of all the death in this war.
By this point Annie has become quiet cynical about life and her heart has harden considerably as she see her brother become involved up to his neck in highly dangerous raids for the Confederacy, the ever worsening condition of her mother, and family’s estate dwindling to the point where she must give her beloved horse, Angel, to Laurence to use in the cavalry because she is all that is left. Thomas Walker reenters Annie’s life now as the Union now possesses the area around her home. Despite Annie’s less than hospitable treatment of Thomas when they meet again he overlooks the obvious evidence that she is harboring a Confederate soldier, an offense that would garner a harsh punishment, and even brings a Union doctor to see if anything can be done to help her mother. Annie begins to spend more time with Thomas but can’t understand the feelings she is developing toward someone she knows is part of what is causing all of her troubles.
Sadly, Annie’s mother dies, and shortly after news is sent back that Laurence was hurt and returning home. Upon his return we learn that Laurence’s arm had to be amputated. There is much strife between the now war-wised Laurence and prideful Jamie. During this turbulent time two of Annie’s now freed slaves are kidnapped to be sold back into slavery. While Annie and Jamie are rescuing them they get into a skirmish with Union pickets and while getting away Annie shot one that was about to fire on her. When this is later found out Thomas is forced to arrest her, which not only breaks his heart but hers also as it is then that she realizes that she loves him. After being put into a Union women’s prison for treason Thomas fights for her release risking everything including his hard earned military career to free his Confederate love. Eventually through some extraordinary means Annie is released. Thomas resigns from the military shortly afterward so that he may never have to fight against his wife’s family. After their marriage Annie returns with Thomas to Virginia to check on her brothers and gather some of her belongs. Before she leaves she helps Laurence see that he is still that man he always was and that he should still be with his fiancé, and she also see Jamie who has become so twisted with hatred due to the war that he disowns her for marrying a Yankee. Annie and Thomas leave Virginia and the past behind them and go to start a new life together in Massachusetts. Anticipation Guide: K-W-L Chart: Reader’s Journal: Classroom uses: I would use a K-W-L chart with this book for multiple reasons. First of all the “K-What you Know” part is a great way to see what students already know about the Civil War and what life was like during that time for families caught in the crossfire. Also the “W-What do you want to learn” part would be a helpful guide for what aspects to pull out and emphasis more during the reading of the book. Lastly, the “L-What I Learned” part of the chart would be a good way to assess and see what they learned and took away from the reading. The anticipation guide would be a great strategy to use with this book because it allows the teacher to ask questions of the students. These questions can, along with creating anticipation, guide students thinking and put them in the correct mindset before they start the book. The teacher can ask students hard questions and pose scenarios that Annie had to deal with. The teacher can then see how they respond and after they have read the book or have gotten to that point in the book the teacher can bring up their original responses. Then they can discuss whether they have changed their mind or not. I would use a reader’s journal with this book for several reasons. One such reason is because the teacher can use this journal in so many ways like having students make predictions about what will happen, to note specific historical events, to write about how they relate to a character in the book, their favorite part, what they would like to discuss from the reading next class, etc. I also think that a reader’s journal would be a helpful strategy with this book because it is a powerfully written and contains many emotional and ethically troubling parts that students may need a place to write out and reconcile their thoughts. All of these are helpful to the teacher as well because they are ways in which the teacher can check students’ comprehension and also can be used as a guide for instruction and discussion. How this novel would appeal to the modern young adolescent: I believe Annie, Between the States would greatly appeal to the modern young adolescent because she and her situation are very much so relatable. She goes through and deals with many of the same struggles that modern youth do like crushes, the desire to be selfish and put your wants before others but having to do the opposite, having to deal with situations that you are too young for, feeling helpless and frustrated, dealing with grief and death, and many others. Also the fact that this book is written from the perspective of an adolescent transitioning into an adult is very engaging. This allows readers to get to see what it was like in these situations from a similar perspective and mindset as their own. Overall I believe that modern young adolescents would thoroughly enjoy this book while at the same time taking away a lot of knowledge. Personal reflection on the novel: I thoroughly enjoyed reading Annie, Between the States! The way this book is written invites the reader in and makes them feel so much a part of the story that they feel like they are right there with Annie experiencing every triumph and every sorrow. I enjoy historical fiction and have always been particularly interested in the Civil War and because of this have read several other books portraying characters during this time. Out of all of them this book is the one that I feel comes the closest to how it was actually like during the war including the hardships, sorrows, daily life, and strains on families. This I believe is due to the fact that the characters and their situations are all based off of real people and events. To me this makes all the stories even more personal than they already were. This book was a wonderful read that had me so emotionally invested that I hated to see it end. I would definitely recommend this book for readers in general but especially for a social studies classroom. The End!