An Acquaintence with Darkness
An Acquaintence with Darkness

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Annotation: When her mother dies and her best friend's family is implicated in the assassination of President Lincoln, fourteen-year-old Emily Pigbush must go live with an uncle she suspects of being involved in stealing bodies for medical research.
Catalog Number: #600038680
Format: Ebook
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Ebook Ebook Downloadable Downloadable
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 1997
Edition Date: 1999
Pages: 1 PDF file (374 pages)
Territory: North America
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-547-35121-6
ISBN 13: 978-0-547-35121-6
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
Horn Book
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.
Publishers Weekly
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.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7-9--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
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Fourteen and orphaned, Emily lives in the excitement and chaos of Washington, D.C., at the close of the Civil War and during the Lincoln assassination hysteria that followed. She has good reason to be confused about her future and the events around her. Are her good friends and neighbors the Surratts co-conspirators with John Wilkes Booth, a frequent visitor at their home? And what about the mysterious actions of her uncle Valentine, a prominent physician with whom she now lives? Rinaldi has woven two interesting plots into a fine coming-of-age historical novel--the trial and eventual hanging of Mary Surratt for the plot against Lincoln and the less well-known nineteenth-century scenario of medical science's involvement in illegal grave robbing and body snatching to produce cadavers that could be used to further medical study. Seemingly incongruous, the two threads provide a believable backdrop for Emily to deal with painful realizations as she charts her own course. Rinaldi has done extensive research and, as always, makes readers feel as if they are living in history. A fine choice for YA collections. (Reviewed September 15, 1997)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages [371]-372).
Word Count: 72,993
Reading Level: 3.6
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.6 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 21626 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.5 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q00090
Lexile: 520L

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.

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