J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Laurie Halse Anderson in Wellesley, 18 Oct.

On Tuesday, 18 October, novelist Laurie Halse Anderson will speak at Wellesley Books about Ashes, the third volume in her Seeds of America Trilogy.

That trilogy, which began with Chains and Forge, stands in a long line of historical fiction for young readers about the American Revolution. Esther Forbes’s Johnny Tremain and the Collier brothers’ My Brother Sam Is Dead were the most successful exemplars of the twentieth century, each reflecting the wartime it was published into.

Anderson’s work likewise digs into the concerns of this time. Like The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson (no relation), she shows protagonists fighting for more than their political liberty: they begin the series enslaved. What’s more, the first protagonist is a girl.

The publisher describes the trilogy this way:
It’s 1776 and Isabel, Curzon, and Ruth have only ever known life as slaves. But now the young country of America is in turmoil—there are whisperings, then cries, of freedom from England spreading like fire, and with it is a whole new type of danger. For freedom being fought for one isn’t necessarily freedom being fought for all…especially if you are a slave. But if an entire nation can seek its freedom, why can’t they? As war breaks out, sides must be chosen, death is at every turn, and one question forever rings in their ears: Would you risk everything to be free? As battles rage up and down the Eastern seaboard, Isabel, Curzon, and Ruth flee, separate, fight, face unparalleled heartbreak and, just like war, they must depend on their allies—and each other—if they are to survive. Which leads to a second, harrowing question: Amidst so much pain and destruction, can they even recognize who their allies are?
Chains was a Finalist for a National Book Award and the winner of the 2009 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Both previous books have become bestsellers and classroom staples. Anderson has also written the novel Fever 1793 and the picture book Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Woman and Girls of the American Revolution.

Anderson’s presentation and signing starts at 7:00 P.M. Wellesley Books is at 82 Central Street in Wellesley, and there’s ample parking in the rear. This is her only scheduled appearance in New England.

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