In 1863, at fifteen, Matt Howard is old enough to join the Southern guerrillas and help protect Missouri from Union forces. But Matt would rather farm than fight – tending his beloved pa's land is the next best thing to having him still alive. What's more, to safeguard her six children, Matt's mother insists that the family take a neutral position. In Missouri's Civil War, which pits neighbor against neighbor, armed men often bang on doors in the middle of the night, shouting "Union or Secesh?" The wrong answer can get a civilian killed.
Matt's mother is from the North, and when Ma decides to move them back, Matt is torn: Should he abandon his farm or his family? And what about his friend Jesse, who has no doubts about joining the guerrillas? What will Jesse say if Matt runs away? In this large, gripping examination of the Civil War in Missouri, a boy bewildered by the madness around him wrestles with questions about family ties, friendship, and loyalty.
Guerrilla Season is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
Pat Hughes is a copy editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer. A first-time novelist, the author lives in Narberth, Pennsylvania.