Hearts of Stone by Kathleen Ernst
Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, Hearts of Stone is a multifaceted coming of age tale.
Hannah Cameron is fourteen when her father joins the Union army, making enemies of the family's closest neighbors. Less than a year later, Hannah, younger brother Jasper, and five-year-old twins Maude and Mary are left parentless when their mother dies during a bushwhacker raid on their Eastern Tennessee home.
As Hannah grapples with her new role as caretaker, she must also deal with the very real horrors of war. After leading her siblings in an arduous two-hundred-mile journey to Nashville, Hannah must regroup when she learns that Aunt Ellen, her only living relative, died of a fever six weeks earlier. Alone in the world and demoralized, the Cameron children live on the streets, doing everything they can to stay together. Eventually they end up in a refugee camp, which is both a blessing and a curse, leading to even more trials for Hannah and her siblings.
Inspired by a Civil War reenactment of a civilian refugee camp, award-winning author Kathleen Ernst has crafted an historically-accurate novel that gives insight into the deprivations of war, the fallacy of prejudice, and what it means to be a family. Hearts of Stone is as memorable as it is hard to put down. Its plot has enough dramatic twists to keep even adult readers engaged. And, while protagonist Hannah is Ernst’s most fully-drawn character, the other characters in the novel are far from one-dimensional.
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