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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Two African-American friends try to gain their freedom in the midst of the suffering in Valley Forge

Anderson, Laurie Halse (2010) Forge  New York:  Atheneum.

Opening lines: 
"Can you walk?" someone asked me.
I blinked against the bright light and squinted.
I was sitting in a rowboat half pulled onto a snowy riverbank. 

In this sequel to the book Chains, we again follow Curzon, an escaped slave.  When Curzon stumbles into a Revolutionary War skirmish, he somewhat unintentionally saves the life of a young continental soldier.  When the soldier insists that Curzon come meet their company commander (and the soldier's uncle, Curzon finds himself signing up for the colonial army.  Before long his is living in a freezing cabin with four or five other soldiers (including one who has it in for him), scavenging for firewood, and subsisting on meager rations.  When Curzon finds out that his long lost Isabel is still alive and working as a maid for an disagreeable sort of continental general, Curzon begins to think of a way they can be truly free.

This book won the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction.  It seems to me to both be thoroughly researched and yet written in such a way that the story is really quite gripping.  Because it features both a strong male protagonist and a strong female protagonist, it should appeal to a range of readers.  This book is probably best for fifth graders through high school.  There is nothing in the book that struck me as offensive, so it should be safe for a broad audience.  I highly recommend it (and the earlier book, Chains.)

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