Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication date: October 2010
ISBN: 9781416961444
Source: Library

Forge (Seeds of America) 

Curzon and Isabelle have escaped from the British prison ship Curzon was being held on.  But, when they part ways not the best of friends, Curzon finds he really misses having Isabelle around.  When he is drawn back into the war, fighting with some new friends, he little expects to enjoy it.  But, he comes to love his time with those new soldiering friends, despite the horrible privations and hunger they experience that winter at Valley Forge.  All of that gets taken from him, however, when an enemy from his past shows up to ruin all he's earned.  Can Curzon find another way to escape and will he ever find Isabelle?

Things I Liked:
I fell in love with the characters again.  I loved getting to know Curzon more throughout the book, though I missed Isabelle.  I came to love Eben a lot as well - especially when he is so loyal to Curzon.  I couldn't put the book down, because I kept wanting to know more about what happened both in the Revolutionary War and in terms of Curzon and his friends.  I ended up learning a lot (again) about African Americans during this time period and being reminded again of the injustices they've suffered for so many centuries. I particularly loved the chapter heading excerpts from other peoples' diaries of the time.  An awesome well-researched and emotional historical fiction.  Some favorite parts:

We looked like what we were: an army of farmers and poor craftsmen.  Some rebels were white-haired grandsires.  We had boys younger than me with no hint of whiskers or manhood upon them.  Our fellows of middle years came from New England, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania; fisherman, farmers, cobblers, preachers, schoolteachers, woodsmen, and every other job under the sun. p 50
When the meat had green bits on it, we'd roast it in the fire first, to deaden the taste, then put it in the pot.  Some fellows called it "carrion meat" and said it was only good enough for vultures.  If a vulture tried to take my piece, I'd have roasted him, too. p 109
It allways appeard a most iniquitous scheme to me - fight ourselfs for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.  You know my mind upon this subject. -Abigail Adams p 160
Things I Didn't Like:
It seemed a bit heavy at times, hard to bear.  It is a difficult subject matter and I think Anderson does manage to inject humor into it, but I felt pretty depressed sometimes too.  I probably should have reread Chains before reading this one, since I seem to have forgotten much of what happened in that.  While it does recap some of the major points, I could have used more information to help me remember.

Read Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson first

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing Parts 1 and 2 by M.T. Anderson
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

s-factor: !
a few 

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
there are cruelties of slavery as well as casualties of war

Overall rating: ****

Anyone else just awed by how successful Laurie Halse Anderson is both at historical fiction for middle grade and at YA contemporary and issue books? Amazing.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Very good post that creates interest in reading this book. Books about the Revolutionary War are very engaging, particularly when the personal and emotional side of characters becomes a primary focus. Thank you for sharing.

  2. CoffeeGuy, I completely agree, though I'm sadly not very well read in that time period.


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