Saturday, June 30, 2018

Book Review: 'The Secret Diary of Sarah Chamberlain' by Sarah Norkus


Imagine helping your mother clean up an old house that is part of the Historical Society’s inventory and finding a loose board that holds an old, old diary. Would you tell your mother and give it up or would you keep it and read it? Emily Grace (called Em) did what I would do: She kept it to read.
Ms. Norkus mixes Civil War history, time travel, slavery, and a modern girl all together in a story that I found fascinating. The more of the diary she reads, the more Em gets caught up in Sarah’s life. When she finds out Sarah’s husband dies at the hands of the military, she is devastated.
The author makes Em a young woman who has begun to fall away from God and her church. She doesn’t believe God is there. None of her prayers get answered. Reading about Sarah’s husband Robert dying makes her angry and she shouts at God, giving Him her whole list of grievances. Em is fifteen and I remember what puberty was like; I cried all the time. Em carries a lot of anger. What she didn’t expect was to be transported back in time. Apparently God does listen. Going back 150 years means things are quite different there. She finds Sarah and they take her in but she has no real plan to save Robert.
The author works with the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, so her information about the times and practices of the era are accurate. The only hesitation I had about the story was that Em changes history while she’s there. And, any change you make in history would affect the future, but the only thing that really changed in the future was the diary and a sign. I had a difficult time believing nothing else was affected.
Overall, this is a very nice read and young women readers should find it fascinating. There’s history, the beginning of romance for Em and it has a happy ending. It also might lead them to read more about the Civil War era. The Christianity is lightly stated and not overwhelming. Why not give it a try and see what you think?

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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