Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson

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I just finished Forge, the sequel to Laurie Halsen Anderson’s award winning-book, Chains, and I’ve already left a spot open on my shelves for Ashes, the final installment in Anderson’s Seeds of America trilogy. I may own a Nook, but this is a series I want to have lined up on my shelves so that I can be reminded of the power of good writing and the brilliance of Anderson’s accomplishment.

It occurred to me this morning that Martin Luther King Day is the perfect day to write about a series set during the American Revolution. Chains was told through the eyes of Isabel, a young black slave, and the action takes place in New York City. In Forge, her friend Curzon takes center stage and the reader follows his story as he moves between life as a Continental soldier and after he is captured, as a slave in a home for officers of the Continental Army.  At Valley Forge, Curzon argues with Eben, his white friend, about the purpose of the Revolution. Curzon tries to explain to his friend that personal liberty is as valuable as a country’s freedom.  Later, Eben says to him:  “I’ve been pondering the matter ever since we quarreled. You were right. If we’re gonna fight a war, it should make everybody free, not just some.” 

One of the accomplishments of these two novels is how well they weave historical information into the fictional story. I learned so much about Valley Forge in this book.  In fact, one of the new books in my “to read” pile is Russell Freedman’s book Washington at Valley Forge. It was Anderson’s story of Curzon and his fellow soldiers that gave me a new appreciation for the men who lived and died during that horrible winter.

And how cool is that title – Forge. Referring not only to Valley Forge, but to forging an identity and, by the end of the novel, Isabel and Curzon forging a relationship.  And, of course, since I finished reading Forge today, it makes me think of Martin Luther King and the bonds he forged between people.

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