"Shades of Gray" by Carolyn Reeder is a book that I wasn't sure if I would enjoy, because there are a few school books that I don't like as much as others. But this one was different.
The main character is Will Page, a twelve year-old boy dealing with the ruins of the Civil War. Everyone in his family has died and left him alone, and so he has to go and live with relatives in the ruined Virginia Piedmont. It wouldn't be too bad living with the poor family, but the worst of it is he'll be living under the same roof as his Uncle Jed, who refused to fight in the war. Will considers his Uncle a traitor, and then a coward, until he finally learns the truth. So at a first glance, this book doesn't look like much, right? But it is well written, and won "The Scott O'Dell Award". And other things are involved. There's Meg, his cousin. She is a character that can change the course of the book with a word, and I think if she hadn't been in the book, it would have been a little boyish for me. But Meg comes into certain situations, and it gives the book a nice feel. Then they house a Union soldier, Jim Woodley. Will is not exactly thrilled about this. But he soon realizes that many kind people fought in the war - or didn't - because of their beliefs. And when he has to make an important decision, he finally comes to the truth, based on the many lessons he learned while staying with the Jones family. This book has a nice message concealed inside the pages. I give it 5 stars (out of 5) and recommend it to anyone 8 years old or older. It has 17 chapters and 152 pages.