Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: The Coffin Quilt

Author: Ann Rinaldi
Publish date: 2001
Source: borrowed
"Fanny McCoy has lived in fear and anger ever since that day in 1878 when a dispute with the Hatfields over the ownership of a few pigs set her family on a path of hatred and revenge. From that day forward, along the ragged ridges of the West Virginia-Kentucky line, the Hatfields and the McCoys have operated not withing the law but within mountain codes of their own making. 

In 1882, when Fanny's sister Roseanna runs off with young Johnse Hatfield, the hatred between the two clans explodes.As the killings, abductions, raids, and heartbreak escalate bitterly and senselessly, Fanny, the sole voice of reason, realizes that she is powerless to stop the fighting and must learn to rise above the petty natures of her family and neighbors to find her own way out of the hatred."

I saw this sitting on the bookshelf in my coworker's classroom the other day and picked it up, despite never having heard of it before then. I've read a couple other Ann Rinaldi books, but this one particularly seemed interesting because it is about the Hatfield-McCoy feud, which is pretty fascinating. It ended up being a quick and interesting read.

I love when I read historical fiction and it makes me want to go spend hours doing research to learn more about the book's topic. Case in point here: I now want to know all I can about the Hatfield-McCoy feud and what led to it. From what I gathered while reading, it was very violent and involved a lot of people. The McCoy family from The Coffin Quilt is huge and according to the author's note, she didn't even include all the kids! Crazy. But anyway, yes. Must satisfy my knowledge thirst soon. I love history.

Even though the novel isn't long, it takes place over about 10 years. The narrator and youngest member of her family, Fanny McCoy, goes from 7 to 16, and it was neat to see how her understanding of the feud and her family changed as she grew. It was hard to be hopeful for anyone in the story, though, including Fanny, since it seemed like people just kept dying every other chapter. I didn't dislike the book, but I think I would have like it more had I known more about the feud before reading it.

Anyone else a fan of Ann Rinaldi or this novel? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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