The Last Full Measure is the story of the Civil War Battle at Gettysburg through the eyes of a 14-year-old resident, Tacy. Ann Rinaldi has told the story in an interesting and unique way, and those young people who are interested in Civil War stories should not miss this.
Tacy lives in Gettysburg with her mother and a brother, David, who is 21 and cannot fight in the war because of a crippled leg. Her two older brothers, as well as her father, are all serving as Union soldiers.
There is much accurately portrayed heartbreak – Tasy’s horse is stolen by the Confederates, many of the 400 or so free black people are rounded up and taken south to be sold as slaves, the precious family cow is stolen, and worse of all Tasy’s friend, Jennie Wade, is killed by stray gunfire. The reader feels Tacy’s pain, and also her difficulty dealing with her brother’s authority. He is unhappy about not being able to serve, and takes some of these feelings out on Tacy.
At first, I was bothered by the simple language, and what I considered lack of depth, but then I realized that this book is written for 10 to 14-year olds, and I believe that the language is appropriate.
There is plenty to balance out the sadness. There’s secret romance, a new dog, and Tacy’s friendship with Marvelous, her black friend. The tragedy at the end of the book left me feeling somewhat unconvinced, but it created a lot of drama that younger students will probably enjoy.
It’s a well-balanced, informative, interesting story of a terrible time in our country’s history. This would be a wonderful story for a classroom novel during the study of the civil war, because there is much to discuss. The book includes an afterward by the author about her research, and also an extensive bibliography.
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with the e-book ARC for my honest review.