December 2, 2013

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Journal by Beth Harlow (a review)

  It's the year 1861 and southern girl named Mary gives her war bound fiance a blank journal to record his thoughts while he's away from her. Little did they know that this small book would pass from Rebel to Yankee hands multiple times touching each life as it does. 

The Journal by Beth Harlow is a sweet easy to read book documenting the lives of soldiers during the Civil War in first person narration. Each soldier who picks up the journal writes another entry--some are able to read all the entries of the men that held the journal before. All are touched by the journey this small book makes.

The Journal covers the full expanse of the war, from the initial battle at Bull Run to the final surrender of General Johnston to General Sherman. Each soldier shares another experience of life during the Civil War. 

The major secondary theme of the book is that of each person's relation ship with God. Each soldier writing in the journal is in a different place in his relationship with the God--and yet they all seem to draw strength from the previous entries by the other men. From a sinner who claims he's too far gone to save, to the doctor who turned his back on God when his wife ran away with his boy--to finally the Jew who comes to know Jesus the Messiah under the guidance of the journal and a Bible. They all share the same belief that regardless of what is going on in this war--God is still God.

I think that this book in it's clear language and simple style would be a good asset to a study of the Civil War....ESPECIALLY for any Christian homeschooling family. There is clear and understandable descriptions of the some of the major campaigns that would be good to tie in. I think that it's easy enough for a middle grade student to read and understand and the older student or adult would appreciate the message.

The main con I have is that it's TOO simple and short. I felt like it could have been a bit more meaty. I also felt it didn't really show the depth of emotions or trauma of the war. It was a bit...shallow? I actually felt the journal entries towards the end were much better written than the ones at the beginning. It seemed more realistic towards the end. At the same time, the books length (62 pages) could easily mimic that of a REAL journal as it wouldn't have been very long itself.

If you are hoping for a well plotted out journey from one side of the war to the other with deep insight into the lives of the men who had contact with the will be disappointed with The Journal

I didn't love it, but I did feel like it was still a good read.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will check out some of my other Book Reviews! Let me know if you read the books I've reviewed and what your thoughts were on them!


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