Neverhome by Laird Hunt received quite a bit of buzz during Book Expo America back in May, and rightly so. Hunt brings to light an important part of United States history that many of us should, but do not, know. Written from the perspective of a soldier, this novel takes a different look at the Civil War because “Ash Thompson” is really a woman disguised as a man. Ash leaves behind a husband to take care of their farm and joins the Union to fight against the South. Such a story was not uncommon. Many women, from both North and South, disguised themselves as men to fight for their side.
Without giving away too much, Ash becomes revered as a hero, thrown in a madhouse,and accused of treachery. Told in first person narrative, the short novel is gripping as Ash describes her encounters with civilians, her fellow soldiers and enemy soldiers. For her, they are all each their own type of battle with only one goal: to make others believe that she is a man. If her true identity were discovered, she could be imprisoned or worse.
If you’re a Civil War buff or curious about this “secret” part of United States history, you definitely want to read Neverhome.
P.S. Earlier this year, I read I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe (my review). Human nature makes me want to compare the two since they are both about women who fought as men in the Civil War. They two are different enough that I think you should read both. McCabe’s character has a yearning to be more than her gender regulates her to be while Hunt’s character focuses on her sense of duty.