Review: Outspoken and head-strong, Jemima "Jem" Emerson is caught at the edge of the great events that shaped our America. With her refined sister is married to a British captain, her tutor a hated Tory, her older brother an officer in the Continental Army, and her youngest brother burning to fight the British, Jem's family struggles to navigate the turbulent storms at the beginning of the American War of Independence. Jem herself is caught between childhood and womanhood - forced to relinquish her wild ways, to learn, to grow, to leave her sheltered life and move into her place in the world. She does that with honesty, courage, naivety, and no small amount of sass - which makes her an endearing character. The contrast of her character with that of her sister, her Quaker friend, and her tutor create a tension in the story that adds nicely to a fast-paced plot and excellent twists.
The story remains accurate to the history of the early war. Taking place in Trenton, where several major battles took place, Jem survives these, but not without cost. As she confronts canon fire, occupying British officers, prejudice, and love, she learns about herself and the cost of becoming an adult.
The main theme of the book is courage, and the hard lesson that doing the right thing doesn't always lead to happiness. Sometimes, it leads to pain and loss. But we should always have the courage to do the right thing, even knowing what it will cost us. Jem learns this from watching those around her sacrifice, and when the time comes for her to make that choice, she does so, even with a trembling heart.
I recommend this book highly to anyone interested in Young Adult or Historical Fiction. This would be a good book for middle-school children, as there are a plethora of topics for discussion in the story.
Bookmarks: 7 of 10
Year Published: 1986
Date Finished: 7-28-2016