The Civil War of Amos Abernathy

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Modern Age

The Civil War of Amos Abernathy
Author: Leali, Michael
Buy at Amazon |

Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 2021-2022
Geographic Area: North America
Country: United States
Topics: History Erasure, LGBTQ+ American Civil War
Genre: Non Fiction
Reading Age: Upper Middle Grade
Published: 2022

American History > Modern Age > Civil War

A heartfelt debut novel about a boy’s attempt to find himself in the history he loves—perfect for fans of Dear Sweet Pea and From the Desk of Zoe Washington.

Amos Abernathy lives for history. Literally. He’s been a historical reenactor nearly all his life. But when a cute new volunteer arrives at his Living History Park, Amos finds himself wondering if there’s something missing from history: someone like the two of them.

Amos is sure there must have been LGBTQ+ people in nineteenth-century Illinois. His search turns up Albert D. J. Cashier, a Civil War soldier who might have identified as a trans man if he’d lived today. Soon Amos starts confiding in his newfound friend by writing letters in his journal—and hatches a plan to share Albert’s story with his divided twenty-first-century town. It may be an uphill battle, but it’s one that Amos is ready to fight.

Told in an earnest, hilarious voice, this love letter to history, first crushes, and LGBTQ+ community will delight readers of Ashley Herring Blake, Alex Gino, or Maulik Pancholy.

Emily's Review

I would call this story history-adjacent, so I'm including it here on History Book by Book, even though it is set in modern day. This is a story that tackles so many important conversations, particularly history erasure. Amos is a 12-year-old boy who volunteers at a living history museum dedicated to the Civil War era. He has a crush on the new volunteer, Ben, who might also have a crush on Amos. But while Amos is out and very comfortable with his sexuality, Ben is from a religious Christian family that is very homophobic. After some discussions with his friends, Amos starts to wonder if there were any LGTBQ+ people living during the Civil War. This leads him to discover Albert Cashier, a trans man who fought in the war and to question why there is so little diversity at the museum.

This book is written in two different timelines - one set in 2022, the other in 2021, where Amos is writing letters to Albert Cashier about what is happening in his life, particularly with Ben and their relationship, but also about the project he is working on for the museum. I think this book is extremely relevant just now with the current issues over teaching history in schools and book bannings. Having a story with a comfortably out character navigating the lack of diversity at the LHP (Living Hisory Park) that he loves so much and learning new information about beloved historical figures is so important.

I loved the conversations he had with his mother, who seemed so progressive in a lot of ways, but bends to pressure over making big changes at the LHP. There is a strong theme in this story of learning new information and then trying to do better. I feel like that is such an important conversation to have as you study history.

What I loved most about this story was that Amos had such an amazing support system. It was great to see a gay character who was so comfortable being out because he had so many supportive people in his life. This was juxtaposed with Ben, who was questioning his sexuality but being suppressed by his parents.

I think this story will have a big impact on a lot of middle-school-aged kids! I recommend it for ages 10+

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