Genre: YA historical fiction
Length: 152 pages
Setting: April 3rd-4th, 1778 in the Northeast
Interest: It was the second book chosen for the American Revolution time period for our American History Club.
Summary: Jonathan wants to fight in the American Revolution, but his father is against it. They’re hoeing a field when the bell at the tavern starts ringing to gather men. Jonathan runs into town to see what the news is and ends up following a group of men into battle with the Hessians coming up from the next town over. Jonathan runs away from the battle and is captured by three Hessians. They take him through the woods and find a house to spend the night in. The family that owned the house is found dead, and their young boy hides in the cow shed. Jonathan manages to escape from the Hessians when they fall asleep. He meets back up with a group of Americans, and discovers the family was killed by the Americans because they were Tories. Jonathan is forced to lead the American soldiers back to the Hessians, and the Hessians are unable to escape.
Final thoughts: A quick read that does a great job at describing the ambiguity of battle. I (and the boys) liked how the story was set up as a series of short snippets separated by different times. The story takes place over a 24-hour period, which keeps it exciting. It’s quite instructive to see the change in Jonathan’s viewpoint starting out eager to fight to the scariness of the actual battle. Avi manages to describe some of the ambivalence of war and the difficulty of seeing one side as wholly good and the other as wholly bad without being too graphic.
Awards won: Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 1984
Reading challenges fulfilled: 93/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and 14/12 in the Award Winning Book Challenge
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