Reviews for Forge
Booklist Reviews 2010 September #2
Anderson follows her searing, multi-award-winning novel Chains (2008) with this well-researched sequel, also set during the Revolutionary War and narrated by a young African American. This time, though, her central character is male, and the heartbreaking drama shifts from Chains' domestic town houses to graphically described bloody battlefields. After a narrowly successful escape from Manhattan, former slaves Isabel and Curzon separate, and Curzon is once again on the run. He finds necessary food and shelter as a private with the Continental army, and through Curzon's eyes, Anderson re-creates pivotal historical scenes, including the desperate conditions at Valley Forge. Curzon isn't as fully realized here as Isabel was in Chains, resulting in a less-cohesive and -compelling whole. Once again, though, Anderson's detailed story creates a cinematic sense of history while raising crucial questions about racism, the ethics of war, and the hypocrisies that underlie our country's founding definitions of freedom. Chapter heads excerpted from historical documents and a long appendix that offers research suggestions and separates fact and fiction add further curricular appeal.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Fugitive slave Curzon takes over narration from Isabel in this sequel to Chains. Only fifteen, he enlists in the Continental Army, serving alongside white soldiers encamped for the winter at Valley Forge. Anderson seamlessly weaves her fictitious characters into history in a cohesive, well-researched narrative about the Revolutionary War that still focuses foremost on developing characters and their relationships. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #6
Chains (rev. 11/08) ended with slave girl Isabel escaping from 1776 New York with fellow slave Curzon, who takes over the narration in this sequel. Only fifteen, he enlists in the Continental Army in late 1777. His experiences as a young runaway slave during the American Revolution differ greatly from Isabel's; though he lives in fear of discovery, he befriends a white soldier boy named Eben and even gains a sense of patriotism and camaraderie serving alongside other soldiers encamped for the winter at Valley Forge. Unfortunate circumstances bring Curzon and Isabel back together, and it is the struggle to mend their friendship and continue their quest for freedom that drives the latter half of the novel. Anderson seamlessly weaves her fictitious characters into history in a cohesive, well-researched narrative about the Revolutionary War that still focuses foremost on developing characters and their interpersonal relationships. Relevant historical quotes at the beginning of each chapter add authenticity, as does Curzon's firsthand account of daily life at Valley Forge; his detailed narration of privations, inequalities, and hard work compellingly conveys the plight of the common soldier. As one man in Curzon's regiment explains, Valley Forge "is a forge for the army; it's testing our qualities. Instead of heat and hammer, our trials are cold and hunger. Question is, what are we made of?" With this riveting sequel, Anderson certainly passes the test. cynthia k. ritter Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2010 September #1
At the end of Chains (2008), Isabel rescues her friend Curzon from Bridewell Prison and rows away from Manhattan in their escape from slavery. Now, in the second of the planned trilogy, Isabel goes her own way, and 15-year-old Curzon takes over as narrator. Passing as free, he joins the Continental Army at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78, where, against the most desperate of circumstances, he forges a friendship with fellow soldiers. When he is enslaved again and meets up with Isabel, he and she must once again take liberty into their own hands and find a way to escape. Weaving a huge amount of historical detail seamlessly into the story, Anderson creates a vivid setting, believable characters both good and despicable and a clear portrayal of the moral ambiguity of the Revolutionary age. Not only can this sequel stand alone, for many readers it will be one of the best novels they have ever read. A good match with Russell Freedman's Washington at Valley Forge (2008). (appendix, glossary, acknowledgments) (Historical fiction. 10 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 September #2
Second in the Seeds of America trilogy, this sequel to the National Book Award finalist Chains is narrated by Curzon, the slave Isabel freed from prison while escaping her own enslavement in 1777 New York City. Curzon immediately explains how he and Isabel lived in New Jersey for a few months, before she ran away with their meager funds in hopes of finding her sister, a quest Curzon refused to support. Months later, Curzon is doing his best to forget Isabel, though the depth of his feelings is made evident in flashbacks of their time together. After Curzon saves the life of Eben, a young rebel soldier, he joins the army and suffers through the winter at Valley Forge; tension mounts when Curzon's former owner arrives. Anderson includes meticulous details about the lives of soldiers and, with just a few words, brings readers deep inside Curzon's experience ("My belly voted louder than my wits"). Her masterful storytelling weaves themes of friendship, politics, love, and liberty into a deeply satisfying tale that will leave readers hungry for the final volume. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2010 October
Gr 6-10--This sequel to Chains (S & S, 2008) opens with Curzon, an enslaved teen who was freed from prison by Isabel, recalling his escape and anticipating the future. After an argument with Isabel about where they should go next, the 15-year-old battles the British at Saratoga and winters in Valley Forge with the Patriots. He reveals many details of the conditions endured by the soldiers during the winter of 1777-1778, including the limited food supply, lack of adequate shelter, and tattered clothing. When Curzon and Isabel meet again, they have both been captured and must devise a plan of escape once again. While the Patriots are fighting for the freedom of a country, these young people must fight for their personal freedom. This sequel can be read alone but readers will benefit from reading the first book, which develops the characters and reveals events leading up to the winter at Valley Forge. An appendix clarifies historical facts and real-life characters. A list of colloquial terms used throughout the novel is appended.--Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD [Page 106]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.