Every time I find a debut novel I know I am taking a chance because they don't have a reputation yet, but often I am happily surprised by the writing I encounter.
Last fall I looked at the book The Confederate General Rides North by Amanda Gable a few times. It managed to make IndieBound's monthly Indie Next List and I considered ordering it for myself but just never got around to it. I am so glad I happened upon it at the library because this book is just the kind of debut novel I enjoy and gives me the incentive to keep reading first novels.
Katherine is just eleven when she and her mother set off on a summer journey to go North and visit various Civil War battlegrounds and landmarks while her mother collects antiques for an antique store she is planning on opening. Katherine narrates this story, and much of the book is backstory as Katherine explains her mother's erratic behavior throughout her life, her inability to focus and complete projects, and examples of how Katherine and her father make allowances for her mother. As the summer progresses Katherine discovers that the trip she and her mother are on is not only a fly-by-night plan, but has also been undertaken without anyone else in the family knowing where they are. To keep the peace, Katherine agrees to keep her whereabouts a secret that only she and her mother will know, but as her mother's behavior becomes even more unstable, Katherine needs to decide what to do to help herself.
Set during the Vietnam war, this book does explore life in the 1960s, yet there is a great deal of Civil War history that Gable includes since Katherine is a Civil War buff and is thrilled to be able to see such famous landmarks, even though the trip is less than ideal.
I'm not sure this one counts for the War Through the Generations: Vietnam challenge that I signed up for, especially since there was so much Civil War history included, but I absolutely loved this coming of age novel. This is another example of a book that just hasn't had a lot of press and has flown under the radar, but that I think is worthy of a wide readership and will be recommending to those who love historical fiction, womens fiction, and are looking for a good book club book.