Thursday, March 10, 2011


by Laurie Halse Anderson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010. (Library copy). Forge is the sequel to Anderson's Chains, which was reviewed by me in June of 2009. I love this series about African American teens during the American Revolution in 1776-78. In Forge, Curzon, the free black man we met in the first book in Boston, is now outside of Philadelphia trying to find Isabel again after they got separated. He joins up with the American soldiers in order to escape being captured into slavery and spends the winter in Valley Forge. History comes alive as you share in the hardships of standing in the snow barefoot and looking forward to shoe-leather soup for supper. The dedication and determination of the Patriots fighting for freedom is accentuated by the thoughtful and perceptive reporting done by Curzon.

My favorite parts are the descriptions of how they build the log cabins at Valley Forge and the trials and hopes of the soldiers as they each meet challenges and struggles on their own terms. I grew up not far from there and we often went on family picnics in that National Park. We have photos of all us kids running circles around the massive chestnut trees that still stand along the road. Reading now about the soldiers shivering in that long winter and determined to win their freedom makes it very real to me. I think it's time I took my young sons for a trip again to see the park.

By the end of the book it turns out Isabel comes to Valley Forge too, in service to one of the officers working with Washington. They negotiate a rocky peace between them and begin to make plans... The book ends in a cliff hanger leaving me hungry for the next installment. This would be a great book for young adult book clubs.It's exciting and very readable. Highly recommended!

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