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Soldier’s Heart

An historically authentic, fast-paced, multicultural family saga, Soldier’s Heart takes place over a fifteen-year period, culminating on April 9, 1865: Junior Thompson’s twelfth birthday, and also the day General Lee will surrender, formally ending the Civil War.

During Civil War times, what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder was known as “Soldier’s Heart.” Men returned broken in ways that confounded nineteenth-century medicine. Healing the soldier’s deepest wounds fell to the women and children who loved them.

It is April, 1865, the day General Lee will surrender. Nathan Henderson returns from the war to his hometown of Carlisle, PA. He has survived his Union Army service. But a more private battle is being lost. Nathan crashes the village church service and exposes disfiguring war wounds. He is desperate to draw attention to his suffering. One witness is Chance Thompson, a carpenter, and a black landowner. He served with Nathan in the Union Army; in fact, Nathan helped Chance pass as a white soldier. Chance has a war wound, too, one that jeopardizes his livelihood. Chance’s wife, Sarai, is an illiterate freed slave from Baltimore, with a poet’s gift. She witnesses the vicious war wound along with her 12-year old son, Junior. Sarai struggles to understand her son’s close friendship with Webbie Henderson, nephew of the soldier exposing himself. And for Sarai, their future hinges on the loss of their deed, stolen by a rebel soldier enroute to Gettysburg. Will their land also be taken from them? Junior Thompson and Webbie Henderson cross a forbidden boundary between their properties and forge a friendship in this racially divided community. They carve wooden bayonets to battle bullies and wolves. They endure the loss of fathers to war, and mothers, to hazardous childbirth and deprivation. When the war comes to their hometown of Carlisle and nearby Gettysburg, will they survive?

Though the victory of the Civil War may be at hand, Soldier’s Heart reveals that private battles of the heart rage on.

Soldier’s Heart is inspired by a true story of two neighbors: the Thompsons, a black family; and the Hendersons, a white family, and the author’s great-great grandparents. The author came across a forgotten chest in her parents’ basement, filled with rare artifacts from the Civil War–letters from the front, Brady photographs, slave contracts–and a mysterious deed. A remarkable story of faith and love emerged: especially relevant, given the highly polarized age in which we live.

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Sandpaper Sisters

Addicts turned community builders: Miracles do happen!

An insider’s view of New Life for Girls, a faith-based, long-term addiction treatment program that is successfully turning addicts into community builders. Follow the lives of seven women from their time on the streets through their year-long treatment as they make the transition from hopelessness to productive citizens. In their own words, the women tell their stories as they progress through the program. Anyone who has been exposed to addiction or works with persons in recovery will gain new insights from Sandpaper Sisters.

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