Grade 5–8—Myers's novel about Nathan Hale shows the human side of history by using fictional characters to tell a story of everyday people caught up in monumental events. The perspective switches between that of Hale, a young schoolteacher, and his student Jonah, a 12-year-old orphan taken in by Nathan's wealthy cousin, Samuel. All of New London, CT, is talking about the dumping of British tea into Boston Harbor, and the townspeople are slowly dividing themselves into loyalists and patriots. Though Mr. Samuel is a Tory, Jonah is unsure of his own feelings. Eventually, Nathan joins General Washington's army as an officer and reluctantly agrees to take the dishonorable assignment of spying on British troops in New York City. Meanwhile, Samuel moves his family there, seeking a haven from the persecution loyalists are receiving. When Jonah runs into Nathan and confronts him, Nathan feels forced to reveal the truth about his work. Thinking his mentor deceitful, a devastated Jonah spills the story to Samuel. Soon after, Nathan is arrested, charged with treason, and sentenced to hang. Though Samuel suddenly has the money to journey to England, Jonah, feeling responsible for his teacher's death, instead heads for Washington's army. Set against clearly delineated historical events, the story employs personal thoughts and feelings to show the conflicts facing the colonists. This well-written novel is a good supplement to American history studies.—Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TX
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Anna Myers is the author of more than a dozen books, including Tulsa Burning, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and Assassin, an Oklahoma Book Award winner. She lives in Chandler, Oklahoma. Visit her Web site at www.annamyers.info.