Union soldier Ash Thompson's comrades in arms know him as a slight man, handy with a rifle. If they looked more closely, they'd see that Ash is really a young woman. Constance Thompson left her soft-natured husband, Bartholomew, to mind their farm while she marched off to the Civil War, reasoning that she'd have a better chance of survival than he.

As the war sweeps Ash across the countryside through the blood and stink of battle, her grit, good sense and bravery save her again and again. However, while most of her story feels true, Ash occasionally glosses over a conversation or seems to omit a small detail in the telling, giving rise to questions about who and what she is or is not: devoted wife, patriot, adventurer or madwoman. Is she defending the honor of a beloved who would not make a fine soldier or escaping some manner of marital unrest?

Laird Hunt (Kind One) uses Ash's powerful voice--a mixture of insight, eloquence and rural dialect--to make the brother-against-brother nightmare of the Civil War an intimate experience for the reader. During Ash's travels, we see the horrors of war, but also the poor treatment of women, people of color and the mentally ill in that era. Once Ash confronts her past and finds her way home, she must decide if she can reconcile Constance and Ash, or if she will forever be split between two lives. Tragedy dogs the steps of a remarkable narrator whom readers will carry in their hearts long after her final battle. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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