Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forge (2010) by Laurie Halse Anderson

     Did you read Chains (2008) by Halse Anderson?
Oh, it was a good read!  I liked it because it was a serious look at the Revolutionary War through the eyes of Isabel, a slave.  What a perfect paradox: Americans fighting for their freedom from King George while enslaving Africans into intense labor. 

Good Reads Summary:

     In this compelling sequel to Chains, a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson shifts perspective from Isabel to Curzon and brings to the page the tale of what it takes for runaway slaves to forge their own paths in a world of obstacles—and in the midst of the American Revolution.
   The Patriot Army was shaped and strengthened by the desperate circumstances of the Valley Forge winter. This is where Curzon the boy becomes Curzon the young man. In addition to the hardships of soldiering, he lives with the fear of discovery, for he is an escaped slave passing for free. And then there is Isabel, who is also at Valley Forge—against her will. She and Curzon have to sort out the tangled threads of their friendship while figuring out what stands between the two of them and true freedom.

My thoughts:  I have to admit at first I was a bit disappointed with the heavy focus on Curzon and all the fighting.  I missed Isabel's character and the mystery and intrigue of the first book, but as I kept reading I enjoyed learning about the Valley Forge experience. I did not know, for example, that the soldiers had to build their own cabins in the snow.  Curzon's story follows the battles closely and they end up at Valley Forge. He is constantly tormented by some of his fellow soldiers and yet, remarkably, he manages to maintain his dignity throughout. Thankfully Isabel eventually comes back into Curzon's life, demonstrating how tenous life is for both of them, rounding the story out nicely for me.
     This is a perfect book to help young people understand the horrors of war, slavery and the importance of friendship throughout adversity.  I'm now anxiously awaiting the third installment, Ashes , in Halse Anderson's Seeds of American series.

Some books I have to really search for the perfect quote to share, not so with Halse Anderson's work because every page has something worth sharing.

Random Quote: 
The last lad was John Burns.  His rude  manner declared him my enemy the first time he clapped eyes on me.  Burns had white skin that turned red when he was angry (a frequent condition), dirt-colored hair that never stayed tied back in a queue, and small eyes like a badger's that were forever seeking a way to avoid work.  He spat at my feet whenever I walked by.  He accused me of stealing my new hat.  He said the crudest kinds of things about my parents and grandparents, and he convinced the Barry brothers to join him in his foulness. (54)
Read Abby (the) Librarian"s review.
Find the author's website and blog here-Laurie Halse Anderson
Enjoy this great article (Publishers Weekly/Shelf Talker) about a school visit

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