Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2016 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781416961468
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Isabel and Corzun are two runaway slaves at the height of the revolutionary war. With most of their family having been kidnapped or killed, the two teenagers have only each other. After a narrow escape from Valley Forge, they're determined to find Isabel's younger sister Ruth, who was kidnapped and sold years earlier. Finding Ruth is just the beginning. Isabel and Corzun must still dodge bounty hunters, find food and shelter in the midst of a bloody and gruesome battle, and then, ultimately, achieve freedom.

Writing this historical account from the perspective of young slaves allows Anderson to explore a story that is rarely told. The war tests these young characters' loyalties - to their families, their country, and each other - in ways that are hard to imagine. Readers familiar with Laurie Anderson's "Seeds of America" three part series will be familiar with Isabel and Corzun's journey up to this point. Ashes reads well on its own, but will likely spark interest in the first titles.

The New York Times has praised the author for her historical accuracy, and that precision is much of what makes the story riveting. The depiction of routine life-threatening dangers and hardships, heartbreaking separations and, in some cases, joyous reunions feels up-close and real.

It's humbling to read this account of unsung heroes, risking their lives fighting for a country in which they have no way of knowing whether or not they'll be safe. This story will likely spark questions, and Anderson helpfully discusses some, and provides additional reading suggestions at the end of the book.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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