Ashes, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is the third and final book in Anderson’s Seeds of America trilogy. It tells the story of four escaped slaves in revolutionary America. The main characters are sisters Isabel and Ruth who have escaped from slavery and are trying to get to Rhode Island and freedom. Ruth and Isabel have a complex relationship because Ruth was taken as a young child by the plantation’s owner to work on another plantation, but Ruth believes that Isabel sent her away voluntarily. As the two sisters journey towards freedom, their relationship strengthens, especially when they are alone in the forest on their way to Yorktown. The book concludes with the marriage of Isabel and her friend Curzon in the army encampment.
The plot of the book revolves around the dilemma Isabel faces when picking a side in the American Revolution. I found the book to be unrealistic because Ruth thinks that Isabel sent her away, but she would know by then that as a slave, Isabel would not have had the power to control who left the plantation. Another part of the story that I found to be unrealistic was that Isabel missed being a slave because of the structure. On the other hand, I did enjoy reading about the time Isabel and Ruth spent in Williamsburg as well as the army encampment.
Nevertheless, I found the book interesting to read. Anderson, who is the author of several books, including Fever, Forge, and Chains, does a good job of making history interesting to learn about, and paints a vivid picture of historical events through the eyes of her diverse characters. This book made me read other sources about American history to form my own opinions about the story and the characters’ experiences. For that reason, I would recommend that others read this book.
Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson. Simon & Schuster, 2017. Buy the book here and support Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup in the process!
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