Neverhome by Laird Hunt is a book sale find which I was impressed with. It is the story of Constance, a young, married woman from Indiana who disguises herself as a man, changes her first name to Ash, and goes off on foot to fight for the North during the Civil War. Her husband stays behind to tend their farm.
During the course of her soldiering, a few people suspect her true gender, but she’s so good at shooting a gun, they turn a blind eye to their suspicions. The story is told in the first-person through Ash’s eyes. I got the impression that she left her husband and home with a sense of duty, but more so with the need to see and experience the world outside. It was an opportunity and she seized it.
After many battles along with being captured and charged as a deserter, Ash eventually returns home. She’s had enough of war and misses her home and husband. What happens next took me completely by surprise. The woman who returns from fighting is not the same upon her return. She carries psychological wounds as do many who have experienced war firsthand.
This novel is a little over two hundred pages, but it packs a wallop. I recommend it.