Beth Cato's Reviews > A Soldier's Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, Civil War Hero

A Soldier's Secret by Marissa Moss
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Jun 07, 2012

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bookshelves: netgalley, 2012, civil-war, young-adult, historical
Read from September 10 to 14, 2012

Disclaimer straight up: I was supplied a gratis ebook ARC of the book through NetGalley.

I desperately wish this book had existed twenty years ago when I was twelve and utterly obsessed with the Civil War. As flawed as the novel is, it brings to life the incredibly complicated real person Sarah Edmonds. She lived as a man before the Civil War and then enlisted in the Union army, kept her secret for several years, and eventually had to desert when persistent malaria required her to seek medical treatment. Also amazing is what happened after she left the army: she wrote a book about her experiences, which became a bestseller, and twenty years later she called on the testimony of her fellow soldiers to have the desertion charges dropped. She attended a reunion of her unit and received a military pension for her remaining few years of life.

That said, the novel felt very uneven to me. Mind you, I read as an adult; as a twelve-year-old, I probably would have read the thing till it was memorized.

Moss does her utmost to stay true to the source material, and as wonderful as that is, it feels very constraining at times when she info dumps things that feel far beyond Sarah's viewpoint. The present tense narrative also feels unneeded and choppy. The romantic plot felt forced in, and sometimes the conflict between Sarah/Frank didn't feel genuine to me. There are a lot of other wonderful details though, like the difficulties Sarah had in keeping her "monthlies" a secret. So many other books ignore important elements like that.

I would really like to read more about Sarah Edmonds. This novel may be rough in spots, but it was very enlightening, and will be very empowering for tween and teen girls.
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