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Do you ever question your loyalty to a cause and evaluate why you expressed loyalty in the first place? Avi takes middle-grade readers through history from different perspectives.
Should You Question Your Loyalty?
We often call blind loyalty a virtue, but should you question your loyalty? Many adults struggle with the concept of after-action reviews and calling into question our loyalty to ideas, causes, or beliefs. But maybe we should. As the seventh-great-granddaughter of Paul Revere, I’ve seldom questioned the narrative of the patriots fighting for liberty from the oppressive overlords in England. And then I read My Brother Sam is Dead. Other books, such as The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party, and Lies My Teacher Told Me, opened my eyes to nuanced history.
Ask any ten people to describe the same event they all witnessed, and you’ll understand nuanced history. If we want to live happier, more fulfilled lives, we need to scrutinize historical narratives and learn to ask questions about how events affected different participants. If we don’t learn this skill, we become victims of indoctrination. And that’s something we accuse communist countries of doing.
In a democracy, we have a mandate and responsibility to make sure everyone enjoys the same freedoms. But without learning how to think critically, we can’t do this. Avi’s latest book provides the perfect context for helping younger readers learn to question their loyalty and think critically.
By Avi, Clarion Books, February 2022, 352 pages, 10-12 years.
When the Sons of Liberty kill Noah Cope’s father over a prayer, Noah, his mother, and sisters must decide what to do. Ever since he can remember, Noah’s father has dominated every thought and action in the Cope family. But now his mother tells him HE will have to take charge and make important decisions. But how can a boy of 13 decide what’s best for a family if he doesn’t even understand what’s best for himself?
Noah understands one thing—the Rebels have killed his father and Noah wants revenge. Too young to join the British army, Noah discovers a way to prove his loyalty to his king and country—become a spy.
Noah’s front-row odyssey through the events in Boston, MA in 1774 and 1775 prove more confusing than enlightening. Both the British and the Rebels claim they want the same thing—freedom. And both demand loyalty while taking away the very thing they claim to uphold—freedom.
How can a boy decide where his loyalty lies amidst the confusion?
What I Loved About This Book
Avi brings a fresh (and more historically accurate) twist to the pantheon of Revolutionary War literature for young readers. As a history teacher, I find it refreshing to have a more nuanced representation of the birth of our country. History books in schools often overlook the true social milieu of the Revolutionary Era.
The founding fathers didn’t offer freedom to all. They only offered freedom to some. And in their quest for freedom from the king of England, they trampled the freedoms of those who wanted to support the king.
Noah Cope grapples with the intense coming-of-age questions which resound across centuries. Who deserves our loyalty? When should we give it or withdraw it? And who decides on the greater good? Noah’s thoughtful narration helps young readers understand the need to think for themselves despite outside pressures.
Middle-school and high-school teachers will want to adopt Loyalty for their Revolutionary War reading lists.