Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Review: Forge

Forge is the sequel to author Laurie Halse Anderson's acclaimed Chains  and the second inThe Seeds of America trilogy. In Chains, we meet Isabel and Curzon, two slaves struggling for freedom.  While Chains focuses on Isabel's tale, Forge is told through the eyes of Curzon.  Set in Revolutionary America, we follow Curzon as he again finds himself a private in the continental army.  Through battling the British at Saratoga, to fighting to survive the elements during the winter at Valley Forge, Curzon becomes a well-research character of historical fiction. 

Compounding their struggles, the runaways Curzon and Isabel find themselves again under the ownership of Master Bellingham, providing a new meaning to the fight for independence. One must acknowledge that the tale of slavery during the revolutionary era is one that is sorely underrepresented in history and literature as a whole and especially true of works for younger audiences.  Particularly compelling  for young readers are the arguments between Curzon and his contemporaries as they debate the issues of race, and what a war for independence really means for all american patriots. 

In her storytelling, Anderson strives for authenticity.  The characters are careful to describe their living conditions, food, etc.  One has the feeling that Anderson is writing a "living history" in disguise.  Without patience, the reader is liable to become annoyed with the repetitive use of 1776 style slang.  As a former history teacher,  I find the concept good, but the execution contrived.  Too often, the reader looses sight of the real drama behind the story the author is neglecting to tell when she focuses too much on the the history lecture. As a book that will tie in to historical studies of the revolutionary era, Forge outdoes itself.  However, valued strictly for its enjoyability as an independent read, Forge fails to  make its mark.
Overall Grade: B- StumbleUpon