Beverly B, March 3, 2013 (view all comments by Beverly B)
Forge,the outstanding sequel to Chains, by truly gifted YA author Laurie Halse Anderson, will turn even reluctant readers into lovers of historical fiction and make history buffs out of even the most resistant student (young or old). The very accurate descriptions of the horrid living conditions in the colonial military camps during the winter or 1777 sound like something out of holocaust history. The battle scenes are equally accurate, equally horrifying and action packed. Even more gripping than the story of the war is the story of the slaves who were promised freedom if they enlisted for the colonies and were also promised freedom and riches if they spied on their masters for the British. Forge will be a great movie and a classic YA novel.
durhamm, June 29, 2012 (view all comments by durhamm)
Laurie Halse Anderson is always dependable as an evocative writer with strong characters and a realistic, heart-breaking plot. Forge, the sequel to Chains, lives up to her talent and I appreciate that. It’s not my favorite book by her but it’s pretty interesting and impressive how she was able to create such a small story that could place her two main characters in such diverse places. Curzon, the protagonist, is placed with both rich and poor people, slave and free, officers in the war as well as the enlisted, male and female. The way he is able to be such a chameleon and bring the young reader so close to the issues of freedom framed in the constitution takes real flexibility on the part of Anderson. In reading this book I never ceased to be impressed with her grasp of the humanity in history and of just the facts she utilized for her characters. I did not feel as close to Curzon in Forge as I felt to Isabel in Chains. He was a likable enough protagonist but I thought him rather aimless for someone who had just gained his freedom in the beginning of the book. In Chains, the book preceding Forge, Curzon was seen by Isabel as a boy completely infatuated with the idea of freedom and with the war��"he was a convert. I don’t see that in this book. I guess that’s my only complaint about the book and it’s a small complaint. It was so well done��"I’d recommend it to anyone over the age of 11.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers -
by Kirkus, September 1, 2010, Starred Review,
"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....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."
by Gillian Engberg,
"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....Once again...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."
by PW, September 13, 2010, Starred Review,
"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."
by Cynthia K. Ritter, The Horn Book, Starred Review,
"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....With this riveting sequel, Anderson certainly passes the test."
by Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books,
"The saga that began as Isabel's tale loses none of its tension as it switches to Curzon's plight, and the pair's situation at the novel's conclusion is precarious enough to suggest — even demand — another volume."
by Library Media Connection, Jan/Feb 2011, Starred Review,
"Forge is the sequel to Chains (2008), but it can be read independently. Anderson has done her research and accurately portrays the horrors of serving in the first Continental Army at Valley Forge. The story within is of slavery in a fledgling nation; the freedom that the founding fathers were fighting for did not extend to their slaves. The hero of the story, Curzon...is an empathetic character to whom most young people will relate....While the details are accurate, the book is not gratuitously violent....Laurie Halse Anderson has again written historical fiction at its finest."
For many readers, Forge “will be one of the best novels they have ever read” (starred review from Kirkus Reviews)!
Blistering winds. Bitter cold. And the hope of a new future. In this compelling sequel to Chains, a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson shifts perspective from Isabel to Curzon and brings to the page the tale of what it takes for runaway slaves to forge their own paths in a world of obstacles—and in the midst of the American Revolution.
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.
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