The Uncivil Civil War by Pat Beck

★★★    Set on the east coast of the United States during the Civil War, The Uncivil Civil War tells the story of Carl, a freed slave raised by a white family, as he travels to Texas in order to escape the war. With his whole family killed by soldiers except for his infant son, he embarks on a journey that takes him through the Blue Ridge Mountains and across the Mississippi River. As a religious man, Carl miraculously overcomes great obstacles, such as an encounter with a mountain lion, with seemingly little effort thanks to the grace of God. He helps all those he passes on his journey, even finding himself a wife and adoptive son along the way. Riddled with religious connotations, this book reads as a kind of mission trip with Carl converting all those he finds through acts of kindness that play on his seemingly endless list of life skills. The Uncivil Civil War shows what it means to care for others even when down on your luck, and how this eventually helps us.

Although the development of the plot line is interesting, this book is extremely fast-paced and as such creates little emotional attachment for the characters. The characters themselves interact with one another using dialogue that is unrealistically abrupt, often speaking no more than three sentences to one another at a time. The moment they become friends is not something the reader naturally grasps, but is rather something the author informs us of. Characters die without so much as a single tear from others in the book, making it hard for the reader to form any connection to what is happening. With a little more work on character development and perhaps a slightly slower-paced narrative, this book could easily earn a fourth star.

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