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Mimi Mathis’s new book, Belle in the Slouch Hat, begins with describing Belle Brayden’s Slouch hat in great detail. Belle and her brother Bud found this special hat together. This hat is not only sentimental on many levels, but also gives Belle a wave of added confidence when wearing it and facing challenging situations. The slouch hat plays a very crucial role throughout this entire story, as it becomes a character unto itself.

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Belle and her family lived during the era of the Civil War. The author does a brilliant job describing the many hardships her family and friends faced as a result of the war. She describes the ugliness it caused to so many people. Unfortunately, one of the tragedies early on in this story describes how Belle’s brother Bud is killed by the Yankees. Belle and her family are obviously heartbroken over the loss. However in the mist of darkness, Belle finds her inner determination to hunt for the person who is responsible for killing her brother, Captain Daemon Stryker

She began her journey by trying to find Captain William Quantrill, a friend who would ride with her brother. Both Bud and Quantrill were a part of the Confederate Guerrillas. During her search efforts, she met a woman by the name of Maude Madison, an Indian. Belle was friendly and engaging, telling Maude she is looking for Captain William Quantrill. Maude, rather aloof initially, soon began to trust Belle as they talked more. Maude shared with Belle the fact she too was a victim of Yankee violence. Both her son Zeke and her husband Ezekiel were killed by the Yanks. Maude talked at length about her spiritual faith and educated Belle about her culture. Maude’s Indian beliefs hold The Great Spirit or Wah-ko-da as the master of life, as they have a high respect for nature and a unique view of the spirit world. They have spirit guardians that protect them from danger. Maude becomes Belle’s spiritual mentor and by doing so helps Belle with her journey. Mimi Mathis does a wonderful job explaining the customs and the culture of the Native Indians for readers of all ages to understand.

In this amazing story you will read about Belle’s many exciting adventures. Some stories are funny, some dangerous, but all tell of the love she had for her brother and her desire to revenge her brother’s killers. You will read about her close friendship with Cherokee Sun, a horse that possesses magical powers. Cherokee Sun used to be Bud’s horse. She writes about her “best-friend-cousin” Winnie and the loyal bond that Belle and Winnie formed.

Belle in the Slouch Hat is a beautifully written story that takes place in the South. It has an underling powerful spiritual message. Its biggest asset is the way the story draws in the readers by wonderfully describing the character’s experiences and emotions. Mimi Mathis did a masterful job of bringing realism into her fictional characters. The cover is also tastefully done as it hints at what the reader will discover inside. I highly recommend Belle in the Slouch Hat to both teens and adults. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this truly remarkable story.

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