Debut novelist Lisa Lewis Tyre vibrantly brings a small town and its outspoken characters to life, as she explores race and other community issues from both the Civil War and the present day.
Lou might be only twelve, but she’s never been one to take things sitting down. So when her Civil War-era house is about to be condemned, she’s determined to save it—either by getting it deemed a historic landmark or by finding the stash of gold rumored to be hidden nearby during the war. As Lou digs into the past, her eyes are opened when she finds that her ancestors ran the gamut of slave owners, renegades, thieves and abolitionists. Meanwhile, some incidents in her town show her that many Civil War era prejudices still survive and that the past can keep repeating itself if we let it. Digging into her past shows Lou that it’s never too late to fight injustice, and she starts to see the real value of understanding and exploring her roots.. – Goodreads
Last in the Long Line of Rebels was the perfect read for me at the time I read it. It had adventure, it had growth, it had a bit of a mystery. I adored this book. From the moment the reader meets Lou, they are drawn into her story. And Lou’s story isn’t simple or neat, it’s messy, sharp and even painful. Lou knows a few things for sure and one of those is that her house is the oldest in the small town she lives in. People loathe her messy house and her parents for not being “normal” but Lou doesn’t care. Lou’s parents (and that messy house) are full of love and give Lou everything she needs to live a successful life.
What they don’t plan for is the city coming after the house and Lou, never one for sitting down, to decide to save her house. With its age they figured Lou and her friends figured could get it on the National Registry of Historical Places, which I thought was genius of them. Once made historical they house can’t be taken and all’s well that ends well. Of course it’s not that simple, but it’s for the best that it’s not that simple. Lou finds a diary from the Civil War and finds out that living in a Swing State (where The Union and The Confederacy was not a clear line) during the Civil War is very similar to present day racial tension in her life. One of Lou’s closest friends is African American and is treated poorly because of that. That affects Lou, and was a great way to introduce younger readers to a topic they may not be comfortable with themselves.
I have no shame in my love and adoration of middle grade novels. I also have no shame in my love of history (which makes sense because of my history degree). Last in the Long Line of Rebels was a dream come true in a book. In her first novel, Lisa Lewis Tyre, wrote a story full of rich characters that had to look to the past to go to the forward. I cannot wait to see what Lisa Lewis Tyre writes next.