The bum knee has lept me from concentrating much on books longer than picture books lately. I think the last two books have cured me if not the knee. Today, I fell into the pages of FORGE by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon and Schuster 2010) and did not emerge until I turned the final page. If only ASHES, the third book, were done and in my hands. I cannot wait to see how the story next unfolds.
Curzon finds himself serving in the Revolutionary Army when he helps save the life of Eb. It is not an easy life: food is scarce and the elements are hostile in Valley Forge. However, Curzon and Eb seem destined to become fast friends. Of course, it is not to be that simple. As a former slave, Curzon knows there is a shadow hanging over him. He also worries about what has happened to Isabelle. Has she found her sister, Ruth? Is she safe? What will happen when (and if) this blasted war ends? Will Curzon finally be a free man?
Laurie Halse Anderson knows how to draw readers into the pages of history willingly. Her characters are such flesh and blood and sinew that it is impossible not to believe them quite real and to worry about their fate. Despite the differences between this reader and Curzon, I could feel his same emotions (especially his swallowed rage); I could understand his actions and reactions. That is indeed the miracle of good historical fiction: the past comes alive through a character who sees it all before him or her. The author effortlessly weaves in the history never losing site of the STORY and its people. FORGE reminds me of the appalling conditions faced by soldiers, slaves and free men, who fought side by side for our new independence. It is a story steeped in history by FORGED by the characters of Curzon and Isabelle. <454>