Illinois Authors

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Michael Leali

Connection to Illinois: Leali grew up in the Chicago suburbs and attended Oswego High School. After graduating from college and pursing some other interests, he has come full circle and is now teaching at his high school alma mater.

Biography: A historical reenactor in his youth, Michael Leali is now a writer and educator. He received his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When he’s not dreaming up stories, he’s probably playing a board game, eating cheese, or grading papers somewhere in the suburbs of Chicago.

  • The Civil War of Amos Abernathy Starred Reviews - Booklist, School Library Journal; Illinois READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2023

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Children; Young adult readers


Selected Titles

The Civil War of Amos Abernathy
ISBN: 0063119862 OCLC: 1291893167

HarperCollins 2022

A heartfelt debut novel about a boy’s attempt to find himself in the history he loves—perfect for fans of Dear Sweet Pea and From the Desk of Zoe Washington. Amos Abernathy lives for history. Literally. He’s been a historical reenactor nearly all his life. But when a cute new volunteer arrives at his Living History Park, Amos finds himself wondering if there’s something missing from history: someone like the two of them. Amos is sure there must have been LGBTQ+ people in nineteenth-century Illinois. His search turns up Albert D. J. Cashier, a Civil War soldier who might have identified as a trans man if he’d lived today. Soon Amos starts confiding in his newfound friend by writing letters in his journal—and hatches a plan to share Albert’s story with his divided twenty-first century town. It may be an uphill battle, but it’s one that Amos is ready to fight. Told in an earnest, hilarious voice, this love letter to history, first crushes, and LGBTQ+ community will delight readers of Ashley Herring Blake, Alex Gino, or Maulik Pancholy.