Irene Hunt’s Across Five Aprils begins at the start of the Civil War, introducing Jethro Creighton who is naïve about battle. His cousin and three of his brothers sign up for the war, one going off to fight for the South. When Jethro travels into town for supplies, a man, critical of his brother’s loyalty to the Southern cause, insults him. The editor of the town paper apologizes for the man’s behavior, but the surly gang from town continues to harass the Creightons, until they learn that one of the Creighton sons has died for the Union cause. When Mr. Creighton has a heart attack and is considerably weakened, Jethro helps out by working on the farm, while the long war drags on, and battles are won and lost. Jethro’s teacher, Shadrach, is severely wounded, but is nursed back to health by Jethro’s sister, Jenny, while Jethro’s cousin comes home, having fled the bloody battlefields. Jethro writes to President Lincoln, asking how to handle his brother’s desertion, and Lincoln replies, telling Jethro that he has decided to grant amnesty to the deserters. The assassination of the President is a crushing blow to Jethro, and the novel concludes with Jethro’s move to a new home with Shadrach and Jenny. Hunt's powerful novel for middle school readers wonderfully recreates a tragic period in American history.