March 12, 2013

Forge - by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is a heartbreaking work of historical genius. The sequel to Chains, this is the story of Curzon, an escaped slave who ends up accidentally joining George Washington's revolutionary army.  At first he seeks some way to escape, but before long he begins to appreciate the soldier's life, and to feel part of something larger and more important than himself. When he is identified by his former master, things get tricky, and getting to a happy ending requires not only all of Curzon's wits and talents, but those of his newfound friends as well.

The book is an excellent portrait of life in Washington's army, and paints the conditions of the soldiers in Valley Forge in excruciating detail.  It also raises important questions about slavery, loyalty, and friendship, some of which do not have clear answers.  It is a book about hope, dreams, and glory, but also about suffering, fear, and loss.  It is an impressive and challenging book, and one of my favorites of the year.

You need not read the first book to fully enjoy this one.  In fact, I liked this much more than Chains.

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