“Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero,” by Marissa Moss, is a great example of bringing history to life. I was fully engaged in this page turner from the start of Sarah Edmonds life as a farm girl in Canada to the thick of the Civil War, where Sarah Edmonds transformed herself to Frank Thomas.
As a daughter of an abusive father, Sarah is determined to not live the life of a meek housewife relegated to “women’s work” in the house and garden. Once she reaches the age to marry, Sarah’s father arranges for her to marry an old farmer. The impending marriage is the impetus for young Sarah to cut her hair and bury her dress and life as a female in the woods near home. She then sets out in the world as “Frank Thomas” and enlists in an Union Army regiment in Flint.
The most intriguing part of this novel is that Sarah Edmonds truly was a woman who served as a man in the Union Army. Though she was not the only woman to do so, she is the only woman who was recognized to receive a pension for her service and to be admitted into the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union Civil War veterans’ organization.
Though Moss does interweave some fiction into her novel, it does make a fascinating read and makes history come to life for the reader. I would recommend this novel for readers ages 10 and older.