Taking his future into his own hands, Curzon has escaped from the thieving wagon driver who employed him and has made off with silver spoons, shoe buckles and Isabel's seeds in his knapsack. He's making his way far from the main road when he finds himself in the middle of a skirmish between the American rebels and the British redcoats. Before his eyes, an American is about to lose his life to a redcoat. It's a battle of who can reload first until Curzon throws a stone, knocking the redcoat's aim enough to save the life of Eben. This act of kindness and courage will change Curzon's life and lead him to enlist in the army on the side of the American patriots. He will join a company of men some of whom befriend and accept him and others, particularly one named John Burns, who detest him because of his skin color. Scraping together clothing, food, shelter and defenses will be the ties that bind them during the long winter at Valley Forge.
Curzon is fighting two wars. He fights for freedom from England with the men around him and he fights for his own freedom and the freedom of his beloved Isabel on his own. As Curzon cobbles together days, weeks and months filled with hardship, his heart is quietly at work falling in love with Isabel. Then the day comes when Curzon's old master, Bellingham, arrives in camp and tricks Curzon into coming to his residence where he enslaves him once again. To Curzon's astonishment Isabel too is working for Bellingham.
This is a story of grit and determination, of the harshness of life in the army camp, and of the incredible strength and heartwrenching injustice of the lives of African Americans in these early days of the United States. Curzon's struggle for freedom, dignity, justice and love is challenged by cowardice, prejudice, and deprivation. It's a time when boots are worn one day and may be all there is to put in the soup the next. It's a time when a small man can put an iron collar around the neck of a woman and declare her a possession. Prepare to be transported in time. Prepare to feel rage and disgust at the power of the weak and admiration and hope for the strong who are held in bondage and prepare to learn, what feels like first-hand, the day to day struggle to survive at Valley Forge. Filled with the power of loyalty, friendship and love. Great read.
304 pages 978-1416961451 Ages 10-14
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
Curzon navigates the dangers of being a runaway slave in this keenly felt second novel in in the historical middle grade The Seeds of America trilogy from acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson.
Blistering winds. Bitter cold. And the hope of a new future.
The Patriot Army was shaped and strengthened by the desperate circumstances of the Valley Forge winter. This is where Curzon the boy becomes Curzon the young man. In addition to the hardships of soldiering, he lives with the fear of discovery, for he is an escaped slave passing for free.
And then there is Isabel, who is also at Valley Forge—against her will. She and Curzon have to sort out the tangled threads of their friendship while figuring out what stands between the two of them and true freedom.---from the publisher