Clarion Books, 2022
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What’s this book about?
In this book, Avi explores the American Revolution from a fresh perspective with the story of a young Loyalist turned British spy navigating patriotism and personal responsibility during the lead-up to the War of Independence.
When his father is killed by rebel vigilantes, Noah flees with his family to Boston. Intent on avenging his father, Noah becomes a spy for the British and firsthand witness to the power of partisan rumor to distort facts, the hypocrisy of men who demand freedom while enslaving others, and the human connections that bind people together regardless of stated allegiances. Awash in contradictory information and participating in key events leading to the American Revolution, Noah must forge his own understanding of right and wrong and determine for himself where his loyalty truly lies.
“In 1774, Massachusetts was central to rising tensions between the Colonies and Britain. Thirteen-year-old Noah’s family supports the King, but a friend’s betrayal causes the family to be driven from their home after members of the Sons of Liberty beat Noah and tar and feather his father. It’s no wonder then that once Noah, his mother, and sisters flee to Boston, the teen becomes a spy for the British. Noah’s commitment to the Loyalist cause wavers as he sees hypocrisy and tyranny on both sides. His Black friend Jolla raises white Noah’s awareness of British and American commitment to slavery. As Noah struggles to determine where his loyalty lies, his mother’s words ‘think for yourself’ guide him and will resonate with readers. While Noah witnesses the famous ‘shot heard round the world’ at Lexington, the book is less about combat than the issues that stoke the fires of conflict, many of which are relevant today. His involvement in another historical event demonstrates that rapid-fire spread of inaccurate news is not a recent development. Avi paints a vivid portrait of the pubs, streets, and coastline of colonial Boston, fraught with danger due to rising tensions among the citizens. Noah’s fate is left unresolved, suggesting there are no easy answers when choosing between right and wrong, but he is prepared to make his own decisions with confidence. VERDICT A fascinating, complex and rarely seen view of the American Revolutionary War; a first purchase.” (School Library Journal, starred review, Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY)
“But for the muskets and powdered wigs and tricorn hats, readers might be excused for thinking that Loyalty, the latest novel from the Newbery Medal winner Avi (Crispin: The Cross of Lead), is a book about present-day America. A deadly pandemic ravages the population. An armed police force intimidates and assaults the people it’s meant to protect. Government leaders restrict voting rights when elections don’t go their way. Activists lead economic boycotts. Zealots dox political opponents. Homes and businesses board up their windows against civil unrest. … Young readers who make it through the siege of Boston with him will be rewarded with a novel that challenges their ideas of American history and their notions of loyalty and patriotism.” (Alan Gratz, The New York Times)
“This is an important historical era, yet fictional books on the topic are hard to come by, and ones that understand current thoughts about colonialism and race relations are even harder to find. … Avi has the historical chops to do this justice.” (Ms. Yingling Reads)
“In his newest novel, Avi revisits the beginnings of the American Revolution, exploring it from a young Loyalist’s point of view. As the story opens, Noah’s father—a Church of England pastor—proclaims support for the crown from his pulpit, setting off a series of events that result in his death and change the lives of his family forever. They move to Boston, where Noah earns his wages undercover in a Patriot-friendly tavern, spying for the British cause. There he meets Jolla, a young free Black man. Through their time together, as well as all he experiences in the months leading into the beginning of the war, he comes to the realization that, no matter what they profess, there is hypocrisy on both sides of the conflict. Confused and disillusioned, Noah must decide where he will stand. With his trademark eye for detail, Avi brings readers into the story’s time and place, not sparing the realities of war, and dealing authentically with Noah’s emotions. Inclusive and objective, the work delivers historical food for thought and a great read.” (Beth Rosania, Booklist)
“The story is spiked with lively dialogue, especially effective as Jolla and Noah sort out how they feel about ‘being in a place where there are all kinds of slavery.’ An extensive author’s note points out how the ideals of the American Revolution and definitions of the words patriot, traitor, and loyalty are still being debated today.” (Dean Schneider, The Horn Book)