Elise the Actress: Climax of the Civil War (1865) (Sisters in Time #13)
Norma Jean Lutz
Barbour Publishing (2005)
Reviewed by Anne Marie Medema (age 12) for Reader Views (3/08)
“Elise the Actress” is a cunningly-written book by Norma Jean Lutz. Lutz winds in many Civil War historical events with her own storyline. The way she creates the characters is amazing because Lutz makes the reader feel like they are a part of the story. Her characterization is clever as she creates many breathless episodes relating to the Civil War in this book. Lutz chooses the traits and personalities of her characters in a way that is so detailed for that time in history that the reader imagines the characters actually made history. Writing with an easy flow of words gives Lutz her unique writing style. Norma Jean Lutz wrote a charming tale involving interesting characters during the Civil War. Tragic events of the Civil War are included in the storyline to give the book depth of emotion. But when Lutz writes of happy events “Elise the Actress” truly shines!
“Elise the Actress” by Norma Jean Lutz is about a young girl named Elise. Her family lives during the Civil War. Elise, Verly, her friend, and neighbors make up a random play. The group of children including Elise put on the show at the house during a New Year’s Eve party. On New Year’s Day Elise goes sledding with her brother where his ankle is injured. Later, Elise creates a new play for her neighborhood friends. Her admission fee is a riddle. Mr. Finney is a confederate father. He attends the play in secret because they are living in Ohio, a Union state. A nurse attends the play and enjoys it so much that she asks Elise if they could perform the play at the local hospital. Elise agrees. The day arrives when Elise and her friends perform the play at the hospital. It is a huge success. Mr. Finney breaks his leg. Elise helps Mr. Finney with his broken leg and does not care that his son is fighting for the Confederate Army. In school, classmates refuse to play with Elise because she helped Mr. Finney, a Confederate father. Elise wants to quit school. Elise’s Uncle George returns from the Civil War after being shot. Soon after this she finds a deserters’ camp. In sympathy, Elise leaves food for the deserters. Eventually one of the deserters discovers that Elise is the person leaving food. Alex Boyd is one of the deserters; he is sick. Alex is Verly’s brother. Elise calls for the doctor and Mrs. Boyd, Verly’s mother. Unfortunately, Alex dies. Mr. Finney builds a coffin for the dead body at no cost. Finally news is received that the war is over. Everyone celebrates and rejoices. Their celebrating is saddened when they learn that President Abraham Lincoln is shot! Elise and her family go to Springfield, Illinois to view President Lincoln’s funeral train. Elise’s father places pennies on the track to be flattened as a remembrance. Elise goes up to the coffin to say a memorial good-bye to the President. When Elise arrives home, she gives Verly a flattened penny and they remain friends forever.