I just finished turning the last page of Sweet Glory, and I'm sad that the story ended, but elated to have had the opportunity to read such a strong, masterful accounting of female bravery during the Civil War. The amount of research time the author spent before embarking on writing is amply displayed, both in the accuracy of her facts and the acknowledgments she shares. This book placed first in the 'Young Adult' category of the 2009 Maryland Writers' and SouthWest Writers' contests, and although I'm far from that targeted age group, I can't imagine being more engaged in an historical novel. Ms. Potocar has created a fabulous way to teach our youngsters about an important period of history while making them feel as though they've experienced the journey personally.
Jana Brady drags her feet at her parents' suggestion that she become a lady, but when it comes to standing up for her country, she can't restrain her eagerness. Running away from home, cutting her hair, and dressed as a boy, Jana joins the Union army, the only way she knows to fight for the rights she cherishes. When she meets up with another young woman, Leanne Perham, who has joined under the same disguise, they assume the names of Leander and Johnnie.
Secondary characters, Keeley, a handsome Irishman, and twelve-year-old Charlie, who lied about his age to join the unit to support his Ma, join Johnnie and Leander in forging a friendship that sees them through troubled times. Though Charlie is eventually transferred to a safer environment, working in a hospital, Keeley is captured and Johnnie is determined to free the man she's come to love. While trying, she's taken prisoner, is sentenced to death, and her true gender is revealed.
The descriptions in this book are amazingly real and emotional. I love a novel that puts me in the characters shoes, or in this case, boots, and lets me see the story through the roleplayer's eyes. Sweet Glory certainly did that for me. I cried at the misery, pain and suffering and laughed with joy of discovery, love, and hope. The breeze caressed my cheeks, the honeysuckle pleased my senses and dimmed the stench of blood and rotting limbs in the crowded hospital tents right before the hangman's noose chafed my throat. You must experience this story for yourself and present it to a young adult so they can see for themselves the difference between telling and showing a story. Kudos Lisa Potocar, you've written something wonderful.
Treat yourself to a copy of this book at Tate Publishing and available for preorder on Amazon.