Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson is the second book of the Seeds of America trilogy and it proved to be a fantastic book because of its amazing historical accuracy and use of figurative language. Anderson did a really good job when it comes to the use of figurative language and how she emphasized the living conditions and battles, etc. This book is good for anyone trying to learn about the Revolutionary War and the living conditions for the soldiers and the slaves.The plot of the book was very good, it flowed well and it was organized in a chronological matter. Forge tells the story of Curzon Smith, a runaway slave who enlists in the colonial army during the revolutionary war. Curzon was abandoned by Isabel who went in search of her lost sister. Curzon comes across a young boy in the woods (Eben) who kills a redcoat soldier with the help of Curzon. The following chapters in the book describe the living conditions at Valley Forge such as food, shelter, clothing, climate, etc. Curzon and his friends construct a hut to keep them warm during the winter. During the last part of the novel Curzon tries to escape from Bellingham who is Curzon’s master, but they run into a problem, Isabel has a collar around her neck so if she were to escape she would be caught and returned to Bellingham. They had to find some way to get around this problem and they find a pretty interesting way. Overall, I rate this book an 8/10 due to the fact the plot was intriguing, and it had all the components of a well-made plot.The figurative language was very descriptive and useful when it comes to understanding the conditions during the novel. For example, when they were building there hut it was brutally cold outside and they had clothing that was in very poor condition. “The cold was a beast gnawing at my fingers and toes” (Prelude) and “The cold knifed through my skin, seared my flesh, and buried deep into my bones” (143), there were also few similes that emphasize comparisons in the weather and how cold and brutal it was. For example, “the snow was crushed with ice next morning, but it was as nice as the finest day in July” (92).
During the battle, there were onomatopoeias such as “Crrr-ack BOOM!” (9) which allowed me to feel like I was there. The conditions at Valley Forge were poor before the French joined our side, for example, clothing, most of the soldiers had holes in their clothing and they were very worn down. “Eben’s only shirt had barely survived the washerwoman of Albany” (74). This shows how bad the conditions of his clothes were. Overall, the figurative language was vivid and really allowed the reader to feel like they were really there. I rate the figurative language a 9/10.Historical accuracy was on point and the characters behaviors/reactions would match what they would be in real life. Some of the characters such as Curzon and Isabel were fictional, but their behaviors were similar to if they would have been real people, Anderson must have done some extensive research before she wrote this book. One of the characters, Baron Von Steuben, was a real person and you can see the relations when you read Forge and when you do research on him. His personality was the exact same as it was in the secondary article “Biography of Baron Von Steuben”. “Steuben’s eclectic personality greatly enhanced his mystique” (Appendix Q). This matches his personality in the book as well. He was also quite funny at times, “He trained the soldiers, who at this point were greatly lacking in proper clothing themselves, in full military dress uniform, swearing and yelling at them up and down in Germanand French. In the book, you can tell that Baron speaks French and German because of what General Poor said, '“If you speak French or German, you can ask the baron himself”' (212). His humor translated into the book as well. “The baron snatched his hat from his head, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it with both of his bots, shouting loud enough to be heard in Philadelphia.
The translators tried as best as they could to keep up with him… blushing and fighting laughter, for the baron was cursing (213).Anderson did not stop there, for example, when she was describing the living conditions at Valley Forge she used factual evidence such as describing the fire cakes, lack of shelter clothes, shoes, tools, etc. (286). “The men subsisted on a concoction called 'firecake'–flour and water mixed together and baked in iron kettles.” (Butler, 2013). “Inadequate administrative procedures, a scarcity of money and the failure of credit, a weak transportation system, and a lack of manufacturing all combined with the natural obstacles of geography and weather to create frequent shortages of food, clothing, tents, and other military supplies throughout the war” (Grizzard, n.d.). Her extensive research allowed this book to really shine when it came to historical accuracy, it is nearly comparable to a documentary of Curzon Smith with himself being the one restating the events that happened. Overall, I rate historical accuracy a 9/10.Anderson should be applauded for creating such a fantastic novel. The biggest surprise was how historically accurate it was considering that some of the characters were fictional. Figurative language use throughout the book allowed you to feel as if you were in the setting with Curzon. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn about the revolutionary war or to anyone who wants to learn about America’s history. Finally, this book was a joy to read and I think you will enjoy it too.
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