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Summary: Having run away from their owners, Curzon and Isabel have made their way north in search of freedom. Curzon presents himself as a freed slave and joins the Revolutionary army. Isabel is desperate to find Ruth, her sister who had been sold. After Isabel sneaks away in the middle of the night, we must go it alone with Curzon and his mates in the New Hampshire Fourth, a regiment encamped at Vally Forge. Winter’s harshness, combined with scarce food and supplies, won’t relent as the soldiers try to find warmth, nourishment, and comfort in their desperate situation. Curzon’s mind is clouded. How will he survive fighting in the Revolutionary War? How can he continue to convince his fellow soldiers that he is a freed slave? Where is Isabel? Does she still only think of him as merely a friend? Is she even alive? This is an historical fiction series about a pair of slaves during the Revolutionary War.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, middle grade reader
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 13; read yourself: 10 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: Reading this book while learning about American History is interesting and exciting. If you haven’t read Chains, I highly suggest it. By reading a story from the perspective of a young slave at the time of the Revolutionary War, I got both a glimpse and understanding of what it must be like to fight: one against thousands. As captivating as Forge is, I enjoyed Chains quite a bit more. Isabel tells the story and I felt more connected to and interested in her story.
Forge would be a wonderful gift, particularly for a reader who is studying American History (or will be soon). The boook adds wonderful perspective and insight to The Revolutionary War. Personally, I have a genuine love for Laurie Halse Anderson and her historical fiction books. This book is perfectly written and highly recommended for anyone looking for a good rad, not just those interested in American History.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a powerful, well-told story. I enjoyed reading it curled up in bed, and would love to hear it read aloud, as I can see the captivated faces of even the most dormant reader hanging on every word. In Chains, Isabel tells a significant part of the story. Here, while she is away for most of it, her power as a character continue to emerge, not just because of Curzon’s love for her, but because you miss her.
This is historical fiction at its finest, as you are part of a time and place, yet it leaves you wanting to learn more about the events and other (more famous) characters.
Pros: This is historical fiction at its best. Relatable, intriguing characters and a deeper understanding of history move readers - even the most reluctant ones - to keep turning the page.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a book that adults and teens will love. Parents will want to share it with their kids, and their kids will enjoy the strong characters who are their age (but making much bigger life decisions).
Educational Themes: This is a must-read for middle or high school student studying US history. The perspective is not just important, but adds depth to the understanding of what life was like in the mid 1700s for all would-be Americans.
Notes: Reading Tub® volunteers submitted this review. Forge is in one reviewer's personal library. The other borrowed the book from their local library.
Literary Categories: Fiction - historical fiction, US history, African American history, slavey, series
Date(s) Reviewed: January 2010, February 2014
Other Reviews: See Critics Reviews and reader feedback at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com.