Sometimes there are classics to be read over and over, and sometimes there are older books from which we just need to move on. Now, I'm not saying that Johnny Tremain is a bad book or that, to quote my favorite teen literature blog, Reading Rants, "My Brother Sam is SO Dead", but there are newer books that are just as, if not more, engaging, well-written and informative about a bygone era. I've been reading about the Revolutionary War lately and have found some quite good, newish fiction for teens on the topic.
The thing I love about historical fiction is that authors can take some pretty bare facts and weave a story that helps us imagine what it might have been like to live in a time long past. Something *is* known about Deborah Sampson because she wrote an autobiographical piece titled "The Female Review" and went around the nation in her later years dressed as a soldier telling audiences about her time in disguise.
In Soldier's Secret, Sheila Solomon Klass takes the bones of Deborah's existence and brings her to life, imagining the creation and maintenance of her alter ego, Robert Shurtliff, as she lived among and fought with the men in the Continental Army.
Nathan Hale spoke one of the most famous lines in Revolutionary War history, but other than that, I knew virtually nothing about him. In Spy!, Anna Myers tells Hale's story from both Hale's point of view and that of Jonah, a fictional student of Nathan's, bringing the people of war-time Connecticut to life and telling us more about the young man who said "I only regret that I have but one life to give my country."
Check out these other recent young adult novels for more perspectives on the Revolutionary War: Chains: Seeds of America by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. For an entertaining and helpful list of more historical fiction for teens, see Reading Rants' list, Historical Fiction for Hipsters: Stories from the past that won’t make you snore!