Forge, by Laurie Halse Anderson;
Atheneum: New York, 2010; $16.99
Picture this: you are ordered to build a shelter in the icy, cold snow wearing an old, worn shirt and torn pants. You haven’t eaten since yesterday, and even that was just flour and water. Occasionally, you have water flavored with your friend’s old shoe, which you call soup. You’re lucky enough to have shoes, but some of your friends’ shoeless feet are turning purple in the crunchy, numbing snow. You must do everything just right if you don’t want to get into trouble with the commanders. This is what it was like for soldiers at Valley Forge in 1778.
Forge is the sequel to the novel Chains. The two books tell the story of two slaves, Isabel and Curzon. Each has their own goal: Curzon wants freedom, while Isabel searches for her sister, who was sold to another family as a child. Curzon is promised his freedom if he signs up for the American army. As a soldier, he is captured by the British army, but he escapes with Isabel’s help. At the beginning of Forge, the two have separated.
Curzon suddenly finds himself in the middle of the battle of Saratoga. He soon discovers a young private who is having a face-off with a British soldier. Quickly, Curzon saves the boy’s life and in the process rejoins the army. The boy’s name is Ebenezer, and the two become fast friends.
Curzon suffers a lot of prejudice in camp. One of the privates teases him, ignores him, is rude to him, blames him, and eventually even steals from him. Also, Curzon has a lot to think about. He is concerned about earning his freedom, maintaining good standing in the army, and then, where is Isabel? Is she alive? He is constantly thinking about her.
Before reading this book, I had no idea that African- Americans were involved in the Revolutionary War. Slaves could work as spies because they could listen to their masters’ conversations, or they could fight in the army just like any other man. Slaves didn’t only help shape our nation, they helped make it.
This story is very unpredictable, which I enjoyed. Sudden turns and twists made the story entertaining. I was surprised at nearly every chapter’s ending. It is a very descriptive book that gives you a great mental image of the life of a soldier.
I was amazed that Curzon did so well through so much pressure and injustice. It’s amazing to think that there were really people who were treated so poorly and went through that much prejudice. I won’t spoil the end, but it is shocking and very intense. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book in the series!
I highly recommend this book to anyone because it is so interactive. I found myself gritting my teeth at the enemies of Curzon, feeling hungry for food, and missing Isabel like he did. I also recommend the preceding book, Chains, which is from Isabel’s point of view. They are both remarkable stories of early America, slavery, and the Revolutionary War. Any girl or boy who enjoys fiction stories would love this book.