Image of Forge
Release Date: 
April 23, 2012
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Reviewed by: 

The year is 1777. The setting is the infamous camp of Valley Forge. The boy is Curzon, a slave and veteran soldier of the Continental Army.

Growing up in slavery, Curzon has endured years of beatings and humiliation, now an escaped slave he has become a soldier and is one of the over 11,000 trapped for the winter at Valley Forge, starving and freezing from the harsh weather and lack of supplies.

However the sufferings of a soldier are nothing to one who knows the agony of being a slave and even worse the endless pain of loving one. His once companion Isabel has left him in search of her younger sister who was sold in South Carolina and he worries daily about her welfare as he himself struggles to survive. He wonders whether he will ever lay eyes on Isabel again but most importantly he wonders if she is free.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s sequel to her National Book Award finalist Chains, Forge takes readers into the world of the Curzon, companion to Isabel. Illuminating the plight of slaves during this time in history, Forge also brings to life the struggles and world of the American Revolution.

With incredibly detailed descriptions of the conditions of slavery along with historically accurate depictions of the battle for independence and richly drawn characters, Laurie Halse Anderson has proven why she is a recipient of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

As the second book in the trilogy, Forge makes this period in time and the horrendous conditions of Valley Forge not only accessible but also understandable for young readers. Containing an appendix of historical data and vocabulary words, the book is a not only a insightful read but also an informational teaching tool.

The tale of Curzon and Isabel is also further enhanced by quotes and references to documents from that period in time from notable figures such as John Adams and former slaves such as Olaudah Equiano. Readers will hold their breath at it’s suspenseful ending that will only leave them wanting more and eagerly anticipating the final installment in this moving historical saga.