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An Acquaintance With Darkness Reissue Edition
Contributor(s): Rinaldi, Ann

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ISBN: 0152053875     ISBN-13: 9780152053871
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: March 2005

Annotation: Sent to live with her uncle after her own mother's death, 14-year-old Emily Pigbush realizes that the mother of her friend is one of John Wilkes Booth's accomplices in the assassination of President Lincoln. Includes a reader's guide.

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Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Body snatching; Fiction.
Physicians; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2004054038
Lexile Measure: 520
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Series: Great Episodes
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 6.75" H x 4.50" W x 1.00" (0.50 lbs) 372 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 21626
Reading Level: 3.6   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 10.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q00090
Reading Level: 6.5   Interest Level: Grades 9-12   Point Value: 17.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Publisher Description:
Fourteen-year-old Emily Pigbush suspects that her uncle is involved in body snatching. Meanwhile, her best friend's family is accused of plotting to kill Abraham Lincoln, and Emily is left unsure of whom she can trust.
"Includes a reader's guide."

Contributor Bio(s):
ANN RINALDI is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. She lives in central New Jersey.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 1998)
Emily is an orphan by the time the Civil War ends and finds herself living with a despised uncle because her best friend's family has been implicated in Lincoln's assassination. The complex historical novel also deals with the moral issues surrounding medical research and bodysnatching. Though the involving story is at times melodramatic, the characters and historical period are well drawn. Bib. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 1999 April #3)
PW cited the "impressive" research and "fast-paced and dramatic" plot that make this a vivid account of the moral ambiguities surrounding body snatching for medical research at the close of the Civil War. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 1999 Publishers Weekly Reviews

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 1997 July #1)
Rinaldi's (The Second Bend in the River) latest excursion into American history is set at the close of the Civil War and focuses on the struggles doctors faced in obtaining cadavers to do research. As her readers will expect, the plot is fast-paced and dramatic, with a wealth of interesting background information. The main character, 14-year-old Emily Pigbush, has a crush on neighbor Johnny Surratt, one of the men accused of abetting John Wilkes Booth in President Lincoln's assassination. During the course of the book, Emily loses her mother to consumption (her father has died in the war) and sees the Surratt family torn apart (Johnny flees to Canada, his mother is thrown in jail and eventually hanged as an accomplice). Her uncle, a well-respected doctor, is suspected of body-snatching, and her countrymen turn into rabble-rousers thirsty for blood and money. Predisposed against her uncle by her mother's mistrust of him, Emily discovers that he has lied to her repeatedly and may be breaking the law to do his work. Rinaldi's research is impressive, and readers will appreciate her afterword describing how she has melded fact and fiction. Nevertheless, some of the moral ambiguities here, e.g., whether or not the lies Emily's uncle tells her are justified, may be disturbing. In the end, Emily finds self-esteem and acceptance in her uncle's household only when she proves that she can aid in the body-snatching activities herself and chooses to look beyond the lies he has told her. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 1997 October)
Emily Pigbush, 14, is orphaned the day the Civil War ends. Against her dead mother's wishes, she moves in with her Uncle Valentine, a prominent Washington, DC, doctor. Emily soon learns that her guardian for all his goodness and talent is a grave robber, illegally acquiring bodies for dissection. Appalled at this discovery and at the deceptions her uncle's household subjects her to, she runs away. A change of heart brings her home as an active participant in furthering the cause of medicine. Emily's story plays out against Lincoln's assassination and its impact on her best friend, Annie Surratt, whose mother ran the boardinghouse where the conspirators met. The two stories are so unbalanced that each distracts from the other. In the end, Annie's predicament is far more involving and compelling than Emily's, and Annie comes across as the more interesting and realistic of the girls. Emily is selfish, silly, and unbelievably naive in comparison; in addition, her concerns are too neatly and quickly resolved. Also, next to Lincoln's death and the trial of his assassins, Uncle Valentine's body-snatching activities seem overwrought and exaggerated. The story lacks the immediacy and power of Cynthia DeFelice's The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker (Farrar, 1996). Rinaldi's characters tend toward stereotypes, and she has serious problems with chronology. An Acquaintance with Darkness is mildly entertaining, but fails to connect with its audience in a meaningful way. Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews
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