The Last Silk Dress is about a girl, Susan, age 14 who is living in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War era. Susan fights for what she believes in and listens to her mother even though she calls her a Yankee brat and beats her. When Susan gets frustrated with her mother and goes out in the streets she coincidentally meets her disowned older brother Lucien. Soon things get better for Susan and she learns to cope with her mother knowing she’ll be able to see Lucien from time to time. But after a tragic loss Susan must choose between whom she loves and what she thinks is right. Rinaldi really shows the hardships of separate families and making choices in her well written historical fiction novel.