Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

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Summarize Tom's letter. Why does Ed Turner remark "a family needs to be alone when one of these letters comes"?

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Ed makes the remark about "being alone" with the letter because there is a very good chance that it will bring bad news. And in fact Jethro and his mother are alone when he reads Tom's letter to her, which has the news that "Eb and me is alright." Even though they have survived the action at Fort Henry, Tom describes the brutality of the fight, and how one of his friends is burned to death. Tom's description of the hardship at Donelson—of how many of the battle-weary soldiers threw away their heavy blankets to lighten their loads, then froze to death when the weather...

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