My Brother Sam Is Dead by James and Christopher Collier

During this entire book, I was awaiting for two things: 1) for Sam to die and 2) for the protagonist Tim to pick a side in the Revolutionary War.  But Sam doesn’t eat it until page 208!  And Tim never makes up his mind whether he wants to be a Tory or a Rebel.

The first half of this book is rather slow.  Much of it takes place in the town of Redding, Connecticut during the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.  Tim’s brother Sam has decided to defy his father’s wishes and enlist in the Continental Army.  Tim feels torn over who which side to support and his ambivalence only increases when his father is kidnapped by Rebel outlaws and a group of British soldiers brings havoc to Redding.  The last third of this novel is worth the slow beginning.  Younger readers may be rattled by some of the graphic violence.  Overall, a great historical fiction read for ages 9 to 12.   It truly earns its place as a Newberry Honor Book of 1975.

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