Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is a classic historical fiction that is based during the Civil War. It tells a narrative about life from the Confederate’s point of view. Scarlett O’Hara, one of the main characters is savvy, realistic, and strong-headed. Scarlett has no problem adapting after the Union has won and things start to change. Her perseverance and intelligence is what gets her through the rough times. Another main character is Rhett Butler. While he and Scarlett are very much alike, they are also very different. Rhett manages to keep a calm and cool air about him while Scarlett sometimes has a short temper. He also, like Scarlett, uses the changing times to his advantage and lets nothing slow him down.

This book is definitely one of my favorites because although I know that slavery is terrible, it gives great insight and perspective about the lives of Southerners after the Union’s victory. Many struggled with keeping food on their tables and many had never known a life without slaves. Even so, while the war had hardened and changed many people, it never changed Melanie Wilkes. She was my favorite person in this book because she always saw the good in people.  She became such a lovable character by staying true to herself even after the war.

This book’s plot was not too complex and easy to follow. The author did a great job of developing the characters throughout the book and I guarantee you will be invested in these characters just as much as I was! It portrays the hard times and perseverance needed to survive back then. This classic is a great-read for every age. It’s a great way to look back at history because it can never be erased, but we can always learn from it. For younger readers, there may be a few words that are hard to comprehend. However, overall it definitely became a favorite for me. I would read this novel again!

-Brooke H.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Mr. Lincoln’s Drummer by G. Clifton Wisler

lincolndrummer_cliftonwislerThe American Civil War took place from 1861 to 1865 and pit the Northern and Southern States against each other, as shown in this novel by G. Clifton Wisler.  Boys from the age of 13 were enlisted to make money for their families.  There were a lot of economic problems at the time for the United States (who, due to the war, weren’t that amalgamated).  People were struggling to survive, and many barely even had enough food.   Since the war was to abolish slavery and the story is told from the side of Mr. Lincoln, there is little racism.  Willie, a young boy of the age of 11, had been working in his family’s business his entire life: mending clothes (mostly army uniforms).  But, he was always interested in war.  Willie didn’t realize any of the devastation and blood many encounter.

Much to Willie’s delight, an army general comes to town offering a modest sum of money for men to enlist in his regiment.  The general vaguely recognizes Willie and calls him over.  The man taught Willie a few of the drum patterns for the army calls some time ago and was impressed with Willie’s talent. The general gives Willie a couple coins.  As Willie walks home, he thinks what it would be like to be in the army, being a drummer.  When he arrives home and shows his mother the coins and asks, “Can I enlist to be a drummer?”  There is silence.

“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, I thought, accurately summarizes the reaction by Willie’s mother to his “whimsical” question.  They both disagree. They need a third opinion. Waiting, painstakingly, for his father to come home, Willie dreams of the Army and of the drumbeat of his own, courageous instrument. Then, after hours of discussion between his mother, father, and himself, the family settle on a plan whereby father and son would enlist together under the condition they must stick together.

However, when the father and son exit the train from their town, they are separated.  Willie has to live his life as a drummer mostly by himself.  Throughout the story, Willie sees death of his own friends, converses with a Reb, and takes a fall himself.  At the end of the story however, awarded with pride, I thought of the song “Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban because that is how Willie feels. He doesn’t believe himself to be a hero.  He thinks that his parents, the general, and his friends pushed him too hard, and he failed.  I would rate this book a 6/10 for its lack of power.  The story itself was good, but I wasn’t drawn in.

Maya S., 7th Grade

Book Review: Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

gone_with_the_windHistorical fiction, the fabled nightmare of our literature! So they say, but most are quite gripping once you’ve delved in. This was the case for me with Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

I admit, I started this classic for my social studies class. However, once I got past the first few chapters, the rest of the pages blew by quickly.
Setting the scene during the civil war, this story tells of Scarlett O’Hara, daughter of rich Southern plantation owners. Flirty and frivolous, she spends her early life attending parties and breaking boys’ hearts. There is small talk of civil war, but she pays no heed. When her “true love” turns her down, a series of events places her in Atlanta. Suddenly, the war is much more realistic and closer to home. Thousands enlist to join the Confederate army, and hospitals begin working overtime. With a harsh blockade, life within the city becomes stricter, but she manages. Finally, the Union breaks through the last defenses, and storms the city. Fleeing to her old ransacked home, Scarlett struggles to hold together the family and rebuild her life. Gradually, she raises her social status, recovering along with the rest of the world.

This historical fiction gives detailed descriptions of Civil War era life. From the daily life in the city to the social hierarchy, nothing is left out. What makes it so interesting is that Mitchell tells the story from a Southerner’s point of view. Usually the South is portrayed as a single-faced bad guy, but Gone With the Wind gives us two viewpoints. Many average people were just defending their homeland rather than preserving slavery. It really sheds a new light on Union General Sherman’s March to the Sea, in which thousands of homes and towns were pillaged. The history in this book makes it especially interesting, as it places everything in context of real events.

Gone With the Wind gained most of its fame as an acclaimed love story. Sadly, I just don’t see it. I feel like it wasn’t really romantic at all until near the very end of the book. Even then, it seemed like Scarlett and her lover, Rhett Butler, weren’t truly in love. Her first failed marriages were purely out of self interest, and her original love never returned any feelings. I think there are probably lots of better love stories out there. But don’t take my word for it, read it yourself! This timeless classic is a must for any avid reader. Soon, you won’t even mind the history part. Enjoy!

-Phillip X., 8th grade