(Upper Middle Grade to YA reading level - no content concerns besides the violence of war)
There was so much to enjoy about this novel that it’s almost hard to know where to start! Readers who think that Sam’s story in The King’s Broad Arrow is just another example of the classic “Hero’s Journey” shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Kathryn Goodwin Tone’s debut novel. She did such a wonderful job of worldbuilding, from the challenges of growing up on the frontier of colonial American society and the feelings of injustice as early Americans struggled against British mercantilism, that it was easy to become engrossed in Sam’s adventures! This would be a wonderful novel for readers who need a dash of adventure to keep them engaged as they learn about the beginnings of the American Revolution from the eyes of someone not that different from themselves.
From the publisher, “Can the power and promise of the Revolution change not just America, but the world? June 1775. War has come to the colonies, and a young Sam Nevens feels like he is the only one with no desire to fight. At thirteen, all Sam wants to do his help his father at the sawmill to keep his family from starving during the long New England winter. Even when his best friend, Eamon, leaves to join a militia, Sam remains skeptical that the Revolution is worth fighting for. But the British have other plans and when Sam suddenly finds himself captured and trapped on a British prison ship far away, he must quickly learn what it is that he values the most. As Sam struggles to make his way home, he encounters notable leaders including Paul Revere, Thomas Paine, and Alexander Hamilton, who draw him closer and closer to the Revolution and farther from home. Sam’s story mirrors that of the colonies as a whole. Like Sam, Americans began the war unsure of their ability to stand up against the most powerful country in the world. With doubts about the validity of their cause and the feasibility of creating a country independent of England, they nonetheless persevered in building a nation based on the untested concepts of meritocracy and self-government. With fascinating historical details and enthralling adventure, The King’s Broad Arrow shows how the power of ideas, for both individuals and a nation, changed the way they saw themselves. A story that began with ragtag rebels fighting an unwinnable war grew into one of audacious heroes – soldiers and citizens, creating a country unlike any the world had ever known. Captivating illustrations by artist Crystal Cregge beautifully compliment Kathryn Goodwin Tone’s exciting debut novel.”