Sunday, August 18, 2013

In Which I Rant About Historical Fiction

There has been nearly silence on this blog of late.  It's the first week of school and all that, and I haven't had much time or energy for blogging.  Now, however, I am rejuvenated, because the weekend is before me!!  So, I decided to write a review of Johnny Tremain in celebration.
Johnny Tremain (by Esther Forbes) is about a young, haughty apprentice silversmith's actually so complicated that I don't know if I can sum it up.  I'll give you the summary on the back of the book:
"Johnny Tremain, a young apprentice silversmith, is caught up in the danger and excitement of Boston in the 1770's, just before the Revolutionary War.  Johnny can't help being swept along by the powerful currents that will lead to the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Lexington.  But even more gripping than living through the drama of Revolutionary Boston is the important discovery Johnny makes about his own life."

There are a few books that have touched me in a special way.  One of these is Johnny Tremain.
I first read JT in fifth grade and I liked it all right.  I just didn't "get" it...I didn't really discover the meaning of the book.  Recently, though, I read it again, and this time...I found the heart of the book.
Now it's one of my favorite books ever.

The plot is really gripping.  (I'm not sure if what comes next has spoilers or not, so if you haven't read JT, proceed with caution.)  Johnny burns his right hand badly in an accident in the forge and doesn't get proper medical treatment.  He can't work with silver any more, so he's left to do menial tasks.  Finally he leaves the place where he was apprenticed and tries to make a life for himself.
It takes a while, but he finally makes a friend, Rab Silsbee (I may or may not have a very slight crush on Rab.).  Rab gets his family to hire Johnny.
The Silsbees' house is a regular meeting place for the Sons of Liberty, and, well, if you want to know what happens next, read the book. :D
The characters are lifelike and real, and Johnny rides a pretty awesome horse.  I absolutely love this book- it has a great message and it's pretty accurate in terms of history.  It has a bittersweet ending, and it always makes me reflect and think.
If you love historical fiction, this is for you.  If you want a Christian book, read it.  If you want a marvelous read with fun characters and real guessed it.  Read the book.
-Miss Jane Bennet


Miss Dashwood said...

I love this book so, so, so, so much. My very favoritest piece of historical fiction EVER.


Eeeeyep, I had a crush on Rab too. Still do, a little bit. Which is why I had a fifth-grade meltdown when he died in my first reading. And it happened all over again every time I reread the book. Which has been... mmm, about a dozen times since then. LOVE IT. We have three copies of the book and the oldest one is in serious danger of falling apart from having been read so much.

When I first read/listened to Les Mis, the story that popped into my head when I heard Empty Chairs for the first time was Johnny Tremain. To this day, I still think of the Observer club (mostly Rab though) when I hear that song. Of course the American revolution ended a lot better than the student rebellion, but Rab still died, just like Enjolras. I see a lot of parallels between the two (can you guess my favorite character in JT? :P)

Cilla is amazing, too, and I really like Lt. Stranger, and of course Johnny himself is one of the best protagonists in literature. I wish this book was more widely recognized as a truly great story and not just a requirement for school. (Last year, though, I taught a class on the French and Indian War and the American Revolution and this was one of the books we studied. I had wayyyyy too much fun with that. :P)

And since I'm not quite sure how to close this ramble-y comment, I'll just quote the book. :D

"Wheee! Don't know commandeer, but it sound pretty harsh to me."
"It is a way you cook things," said Johnny solemnly.

I love that part. :D

Miss Jane Bennet said...

We have two copies, one of which is falling apart. I cry when Rab dies every single time. Also when Pumpkin dies. *sniffle*
I actually think of Rilla of Ingleside while listening to ECaET. I can definitely see parallels between Rab and Enjolras though.
Heehee, could your favorite character possibly be Rab? Mine too.
I totally agree with you! This book needs publicity.
Cilla and Johnny tie for second place in my list of favorite characters (I love them all, but you know...). Lt. Stranger and Goblin are third.
Heehee, that's one of my very favorite quotes! My other one is much more solemn, but as I don't know how to end this either, I'll close with it.
"We give all we have, lives, property, safety, skills...we fight, we die, for a simple thing. Only that a man can stand up." -Johnny Tremain, Chapter 8, pg. 180
Thanks for commenting! :)