Two friends--one black, one white. Torn apart by an attack gone wrong. One escapes into war, the other is sold into slavery. Told from alternating viewpoints, one black and one white, Surviving the Fatherland author Annette Oppenlander delivers another stunning historical tale set against the epic backdrop of the American Civil War--a breathtaking examination of the power of hope and friendship, and the endurance of the human spirit to find a way home.
Tennessee, 1861. Fifteen-year-old farm boy Adam Brown would do anything to protect his friend Tip, a slave at the neighboring plantation - even if it means fighting Nathan Billings, the rich and obnoxious landowner's son. But when it seems his attack has killed Nathan, Adam has no choice but to run away and join the Union Army under an assumed name. Together with Wes, a chatty soldier with a few secrets of his own, Adam embarks on a traumatic odyssey through the war-torn Midwest. As his soul darkens with the atrocities of war, all he wants is to go home. But in order to do that - if he survives - he must face his past.
Unbeknownst to Adam, 16-year old Tip is sold to a farmer who takes drunken pleasure in torturing his slaves. Tip quickly realizes that if he wants to survive, he must run. Ahead lie hundreds of miles of unknown country infested by slave owners, traders, starvation, and cold. And so begins a journey of escape and recapture, of brutal attacks and unexpected kindness.
When a rescue by the Underground Railroad goes terribly wrong, Tip finds himself caring for a pregnant runaway, his journey seemingly at an end. They have reached the Ohio River, a vast, watery expanse impossible to cross. It is only a matter of time before roaming slave traders will pick them up - he will never see his mother and his best friend again.
Civil War stories have intrigued me since I was a kid. I will never be able to understand how one human could think he owned another human as property. I have never understood the hatred between people based on their skin color. And I can't imagine what it would be like to be on a battlefield like that, especially when you may be fighting against your best friends or brothers. And then the horrors of the injuries and amputations.
Oppenlander's characters look like they should be on opposite sides, but instead they are best friends. This happened between slaves and sympathizers, but could be dangerous, especially when living in a state that is so split in loyalties. Tip and Adam have long been friends. The two of them end up in a situation that spells disaster for both of them and they start to go down different paths. Following Adam's story gives you some insight into what it was like being in the army. Following Tip's story gives you some insight into what it was like being a slave. Both of their stories are rooted in fact and based on real battles that took place.
I enjoyed those aspects of the book, but felt that some of the dramatic twists and turns were a bit more modern than historical. That's not to say that those things didn't happen then. I guess I'm just not used to reading them in an historical novel. That being said, those dramatic twists did make me think of some of those grand tales like North and South and Gone with the Wind, with a slight update in a couple of topics. For some readers, this will be perfect. Worth a read as now I am craving more Civil War stories. And I am curious about some of her other stories.
The Civil War is a time of great sundering – the U.S. violently torn in half, and families divided by a vast struggle over slavery and states’ rights. Personal loss comes in many forms as Adam Brown, a 15-year-old Tennessee farm boy, learns. A letter from the U.S. War Department informs the Brown family that Adam’s father was killed in the war’s first battle. His dream of veterinary school is obliterated, and Adam’s life becomes a struggle to hold onto the family’s farm.
One bright spot in Adam’s life is Tip, an enslaved friend. However, Tip’s master thrashes the teen when he leaves his plantation to comfort Adam. As bad as that beating is, Nathan Billings, the master’s sadistic son, is even bigger trouble. Adam defends Tip against Billings’ savagery, only to accidentally lay him low. Believing that Billings is dead, Adam joins the Union army under an assumed name. With his life in danger, Tip also flees north. The friends are parted, seemingly forever. As the title indicates, both young men face huge losses, but they also have much to gain.
Annette Oppenlander’s Everything We Lose follows Adam’s and Tip’s diverging lives across America’s Midwest. Her description of Tip’s abusive owners is particularly vivid, but I might question why Tip was repeatedly tortured. Severe beatings made an example of runaway slaves after recapture, but what slave owner – even a sadist – would risk valuable “property” for fun? Nevertheless, Ms. Oppenlander’s rich, gritty descriptions are a joy to read. Her touching story moves along quickly but will keep you in suspense until the final pages.
Everything We Lose is a fabulous historical novel that I could not put down. The writing is wonderful and the story just pulls you into it. I can't wait to read another book by this author.
In Everything We Lose, two young boys are telling us the story of the Civil War. One boy, Adam, is white and living on a small farm with his mom and sister without his dad, who had gone off to fight for the freedom of the slaves and was killed. Tip is a young black slave owned by the Billings family and forced to work on their plantation while his mama cooks and prepares all of the meals and runs the kitchen. Adam and Tip form a very special and unusual friendship that will last a lifetime. When Adam gets in trouble for the killing of the young Billings son for his unfair treatment of Tip, he feels he must leave his farm to protect his mother and sister. He joins the Union army to fight against slavery. Adam becomes close friends with Wes and the two try to protect each other throughout the fighting. Tip, not understanding how he can be owned by another human being, sets out to escape, ends up at another plantation, and must once again run away and try to make it up north where he would be free.
Everything We Lose: A Civil War Novel of Hope, Courage and Redemption pulled me into the pages and I felt the sorrow, the joy and the pain of both Adam and Tip. The war and the heartache of being a slave place both boys in life threatening situations and force them to face punishment, hate, bondage and so much more before the war is finally over and they can try to find their way back home to Tennessee. This is a story that made the Civil War jump out of the history books and become very real. I had a hard time putting it down and found myself reading well into the night. Author Annette Oppenlander did her research well, blending real battles into the story which made Adam and Tip feel real. I highly recommend this historical book for all Civil War fans but also for those who just enjoy a good human story that will make you smile and cry.
Annette does it again! I had the pleasure of reviewing her novel, Surviving the Fatherland last year, which went on to become a best seller, and now, this new novel is yet another masterpiece of storytelling. Everything We Lose is a brutal rendering about the lives of two boys, Adam and Tip, a friendship forged near the beginning of America’s civil war. Adam, the son of a poor white farmer who went off to war to fight against slavery, and Tip, an Afro-American slave on a nearby rich estate, are caught in the midst of America’s hateful racism. In an attempt to defend Tip from brutality at the hands of his “owners”, Adam is forced to flee his home and eventually joins the Union to fight against slavery, following in his father’s footsteps. Meanwhile, Tip yearns for freedom and sets off on his own harrowing journey to find it. The two stories are extremely moving, gut-wrenching at times, and the lucidity of its descriptions and the scenario of war over the principles of equality and justice are weaved throughout the book in a way that reminds us that such base motives as hatred and racism have no place in a true democracy. Just when you think there is light at the end of the tunnel, when relief is in sight, the author casts you back into the murk, but there is always the one constant which these two friends refuse to let go of – hope! An excellent read with an excellent message.