Avi (Juvenile Historical Fiction)
It’s 1776 and the War for Independence has arrived at Sophia Calderwood’s front door. Before long, New York City is occupied by British troops and every citizen chooses a side: loyalist or patriot. To be a patriot is dangerous, but to be a spy is a death sentence. They hang spies. But Sophia needs to do something to help and, despite the risks, she utters four words that would change the course of her life, and possibly, the revolution: “I wish to help.”
Avi has given us a compelling and dramatic story that is about as close to an actual history book as you can get. Other than Sophia and her family, every character in this book is real; however, what I appreciate most about this story is the light Avi sheds on the darkness that was the British prisons. Those that lost their personal freedom fighting for their country’s freedom endured starvation, disease, cold, filth, and neglect. A soldier whose life was spared on the battlefield most likely lost it while in prison. Evidence points to the fact that nearly 18,000 people died in Britain’s New York prisons, while some 7,000 died on the battlefield. And this was in New York alone.
This book is targeted for ages 7 to 12, but there are sections that tend to get a bit weighty with the names of numerous battles and their commanders. This might prove a little overwhelming for readers on the younger end of the scale, but for those in the upper elementary-age bracket, this book provides an informative glimpse into the Revolutionary War and one of history’s most famous traitors. Truly a thrilling and worthy read that ends with highly dramatic, parallel storylines that serve as an 18th century version of Spy vs. Spy.
* Book cover image attributed to http://www.simonandschuster.com