A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin (Dear America)

by Karen Hesse

Hardcover, 1999


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Call number

J DA 1861 DE


Scholastic Inc. (1999), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 174 pages


In 1860 and 1861, while working in her father's lighthouse on an island off the coast of Delaware, fifteen-year-old Amelia records in her diary how the Civil War is beginning to devastate her divided state.

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LibraryThing member sgerbic
Reviewed Sept 2007

Every time I pick up one of these books I'm amazed at how well researched they are and how quickly they grip you. As per usual the reader is thrown into the life of a girl, this one living in a border state at the beginning of the civil war. Apparently her story is based on a
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real life woman who also became a lighthouse keeper and rescued 22 live over her career. The perspective of this story shows the anger and hatred between neighbors. The issue of slavery split up families white and black. What an amazing difficult time it must have been to live in. The authors references to the light of the lighthouse was not s distracting as you would think, it kinda helped keep everyone focused as well as stories about the sea. I can understand how lonely her life must have felt and how comforting the sea was. Maybe having the responsibility of keeping the light, helped get through the troubles in that era? Sad that the author had Daniel and Amelia not live together, I guess the war changed Daniel and sometimes there is no happy ending.

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LibraryThing member judypx2014
This book is about a girl called Amelia Martin who is living in Delaware, Fenwick Island. Civil war impacts her life, and because of that, she goes through lots of difficulties. This is a diary of Amelia Martin.
LibraryThing member BookishRuth
Part of the popular Dear America series, A Light in the Storm chronicles a year in the life of a 16-year-old girl at the start of the Civil War.

Amelia Martin begins her diary in the final days of 1860. Amelia is the daughter of a lighthouse keeper on Fenwick Island, Delaware. The reader experiences
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the events that led to the Civil War through Amelia's eyes. She is very distressed when South Carolina secedes from the Union and wonders what that will mean for President-Elect Abraham Lincoln.

The conflict also has a much more personal effect on Amelia and her family. Amelia's parents are bitterly divided over the issue of slavery, which creates a very tense home life. Her mother is also prone to depression and Amelia struggles to understand her mother's sudden mood changes.

As war becomes an inevitability, Amelia's friend Daniel enlists in the Union army. Amelia worries for his safety and anxiously anticipates his letters from the front. The other lighthouse keeper at Fenwick Island also enlists, and a new keeper with a large family takes his place. Their joyful home life is a stark contrast to the tension present in Amelia's family.

Eventually, writing in her diary during the nightly watch is one of the few things that brings Amelia peace. She worries about the uncertain future of the country as well as the toll the conflict will take on her parents' marriage:

"I feel as if I am the Light in my family. I must keep my hope burning, so that Father and Mother, even in the darkness that seems to engulf them, might find their way back."

Amelia's diary, though fictional, is very moving. A Light in the Storm provides a unique look at life in Delaware during the early days of the Civil War. Delaware permitted slavery but never joined the Confederacy. Amelia's voice is compelling and young people will be able to relate to her hopes and fears. The book includes an interesting and informative appendix of historical information related to the story.
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LibraryThing member thornton37814
***SPOILER ALERT: This review will contain spoilers.*** Amelia Martin is the 15-year-old daughter of the assistant lighthouse keeper off the coast of Delaware as this diary begins in late 1860 and continues through 1861. She turns 16 in the book She keeps the first watch at the lighthouse.Delaware
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is a border state in the issue over slavery. Much of the Southern part of the state is aligned with the South, while the north tends to be more aligned with the Union. A group of runaway slaves makes Amelia realize the magnitude of the differences in her parents. Her mother believes the slaves should be sent back to their owners. Her father believes they should be helped to freedom. While Amelia has agreed with her mother in the past, something about her encounter with them makes her realize that her father is correct. It isn't long before South Carolina secedes from the Union--something that Amelia considers completely unacceptable. Other Southern States follow South Carolina's lead gradually. The tension at home begins to mount. Her mother becomes more withdrawn over time and has physical and medical problems. Her mother eventually moves in with Amelia's ailing grandmother. Her father serves divorce papers on her mother. I really enjoyed this look at the tensions in a divided community due to the war. In several places, Amelia referred to what was happening in Tennessee to Union supporters during this time. Since I live a section of Tennessee that had strong Union sympathies, these mentions were interesting. However, there was some unevenness to the writing. I felt that the author used a 20th century solution to the marriage problem. Divorce was not as commonplace in the 19th century as it is in 21st century America, and while it was not unheard of, they were more difficult to obtain. I felt the author made it too easy, even in the strained relations due to ideologies. I also felt that the diary ended rather abruptly and that its conclusion was in an awkward place and that it should have continued until one of the major events in 1862. I also felt that the Epilogue wrapped things up a little too tidily and left little room for the reader's imagination of what the future might have been for those persons mentioned in the diary. It's a good, but not a great, work of fiction.
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LibraryThing member Scuttle2003
I found this book to be very eye-catching. It is interesting to be reading a book from the perspective of a light keepers daughter. I really saw the lighthouse and I felt like I was in the character's world as I read. I enjoyed this book; a light in the storm because it was very descriptive and
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really made me feel like I was talking with the charecte
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LibraryThing member nancynova
Seventeen year old Amelia is the only child of the assistant lighthouse keeper and his wife. He tends the Fenwick lighthouse in 1861, just as the Civil War breaks out. Delaware is a "border state", so tensions run high even within families. Her father is an abolitionist, something that her mother
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cannot abide by, causing her parents to divorce. And one of her childhood friends goes off to fight the war. She's left behind with a broken family...tending the light of the lighthouse.
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LibraryThing member justagirlwithabook
I don't remember much of these books as individual books, but I remember reading them all as a young, avid reader. I think that ultimately these books are the reason why I love historical fiction novels so much. They all did such a great job of taking me to a different time and place and making it
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come alive, seeing the world through an older, historical lens. I highly recommend any of the Dear America books to younger readers who love history and need to get hooked on reading!
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Original publication date


Physical description

174 p.; 7.69 inches


0590567330 / 9780590567336



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