The Coffin Quilt: The Feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys

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9780152020156: The Coffin Quilt: The Feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys

Fanny McCoy has lived in fear and anger ever since that day in 1878 when a dispute with the Hatfields over the ownership of a few pigs set her family on a path of hatred and revenge. From that day forward, along the ragged ridges of the West Virginia-Kentucky line, the Hatfields and the McCoys have operated not within the law but within mountain codes of their own making. In 1882, when Fanny’s sister Roseanna runs off with young Johnse Hatfield, the hatred between the two clans explodes. As the killings, abductions, raids, and heartbreak escalate bitterly and senselessly, Fanny, the sole voice of reason, realizes that she is powerless to stop the fighting and must learn to rise above the petty natures of her family and neighbors to find her own way out of the hatred.

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Review:

Feuds among the mountain folks of West Virginia and Kentucky, particularly the bloody skirmishes between the Hatfield and McCoy families, are often celebrated in American legend and folksongs. In The Coffin Quilt, Ann Rinaldi mines this rich vein of Americana for a fascinating tale that closely follows the real events of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, but which also has implications for our own violent times. Rinaldi--known for Cast Two Shadows, An Acquaintance with Darkness, and other historical fiction novels for teens--suggests in her author's note that "the Civil War conditioned men who fought in it to kill and to hate." Consequently, men came home from the war to their mountains with minds and rifles primed to react to the slightest trespass upon their exaggerated loyalty to kinfolk. The story is told by Fanny, the youngest of the fourteen McCoy children, who traces the beginnings of the famous feud to a confused Civil War shooting and a dispute over a herd of pigs. When her favorite older sister, the beautiful Roseanna, runs off with handsome Johnse Hatfield, it's like a bucket of gasoline thrown on the smoldering hatred between the two families. Warned by the apparition she calls Yeller Thing, Fanny is nonetheless a helpless witness to ambushes and killings, burials and retribution. Too late she realizes that Roseanna's obsession with sewing a traditional but gruesome coffin-decorated quilt is a sign of her evil attraction to deliberately stoking the fires of the feud--providing a psychological thriller ending for this dramatic tale of hillbilly love and revenge. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell

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Hardcover published in 1999

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