Five 4ths of July


On July 4th, 1777, Jake Mallory and his friends are celebrating their new nation's independence in a small coastal town in Connecticut. Fourteen-yearold Jake wants nothing more than to get out from under the strict thumb of his father and see some adventure. But he learns too late that he must be careful what he wishes for. Over the course of four more 4ths, he finds himself in increasingly adventurous circumstances-from battling the British army to barely surviving on a prison ship to finally returning home, ...

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On July 4th, 1777, Jake Mallory and his friends are celebrating their new nation's independence in a small coastal town in Connecticut. Fourteen-yearold Jake wants nothing more than to get out from under the strict thumb of his father and see some adventure. But he learns too late that he must be careful what he wishes for. Over the course of four more 4ths, he finds himself in increasingly adventurous circumstances-from battling the British army to barely surviving on a prison ship to finally returning home, war-torn and weary, but hopeful for his and America's future.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
One year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Jake Mallery and his friends are celebrating with a swimming contest in Long Island Sound and feasting on fresh oysters. Jake meets a privateer and longs to join him on his boat, but his father has other plans. Fifteen-year-old Jake is to join the militia. He opposes his father's idea. Each chapter takes the reader to the next 4th of July and deeper into the war. On July 4, 1779, Jake and his friend Tim find themselves in the middle of a battle with the British. They are taken captive and put on the Bonhomme, a prison ship. Jake's life is changed forever by this harsh and horrific experience. Readers will gain valuable insight into the difficult realities of the American Revolution, from changes in relationships with friends and neighbors to the actual battles. Well-crafted characters and scenes draw the reader into this story. Jake's relationships with his friends, his family, and the indentured servant Hannah all come into play during his captivity. We see him grow from a teenage boy in 1777 into a responsible, war-weary adult in 1781. Hughes draws upon family history in the creation of this novel. Her brilliant use of a single, significant day from each of these five years provides an overview of the war while simultaneously giving the reader a personal perspective. Readers will gain a new appreciation for the sacrifices of those who fought for American independence. This is an excellent choice for those looking for novels about the American Revolution. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
VOYA - Mary Arnold
Author Pat Hughes uses her own family's history in a timely reminder that the experience of war can be a defining moment in young lives, and her research reveals that coming-of-age during the Revolutionary War feels surprisingly contemporary. As he and his friends celebrate the first anniversary of America's independence, Jake Mallery's dreams of adventure far from his coastal Connecticut town are at odds with his stern father's plans. Successive July 4th holidays find Jake in adventures of the heart, and a British invasion find Mal and his best friend, Tim, fighting with the Sons of Liberty, imprisoned under maritime law, and transported to one of the infamous British prison ships in New York harbor. Their families unaware of their fate, the friends pledge to survive, and Jake's love for Hannah gives him hope for a future. The scenes aboard the Bonhomme bring to horrendous life a lesser-known fact about this period of history, and the experience that bonds soldiers together and forges patriots who "stay alive to bear witness." Hughes's writing is vivid, and Mal, Tim, and the other captives emerge, not only as real persons, but as real adolescents discovering what the world is like and what impact an individual can make. This is honest, eye-opening historical fiction that illuminates the past and connects it to ourselves. Reviewer: Mary Arnold
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Jake Mallery is held to a high standard by his Patriot father, but he would rather be dreaming up pranks and daring escapades with his peers than running the family-owned ferry. He is certainly uninterested in training as a soldier on the remote chance that the British might attack their area of Connecticut. Jake's coming-of-age story unfolds in five lengthy chapters, from 1777 to 1781, that trace his trials and tribulations as a boy, rebel, soldier, prisoner, and, finally, Patriot. Hughes builds her exciting narrative through careful research, infusing her characters with idealistic sentiments that contemporary teens will recognize—youthful ambitions, bravado, and honest insecurities. Jake, presented as an argumentative, even jealous teen, indignant at how his Yale student brother is favored by his father, develops a sense of responsibility and maturity through his progressively dangerous circumstances and comes full circle as a prisoner of war. Hughes's often-gruesome descriptions of life on the British prison ships will leave readers with admiration for Jake's reversal of egocentricity as he quickly learns the rules of survival and deals with realistic outcomes, including the brutal death of a childhood friend, a love interest that results in a pregnancy, and an escape scenario. Jake's epiphany—that the ideals and life aspirations of Loyalists and Patriots can be one and the same the same—could have readers drawing parallels to today's global rebellions and often warlike freedom-seeking protests in the Middle East. A great adventure story with strong discussion potential for character study and democratic values.—Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI
Kirkus Reviews

While the American Revolution rages, teenager Jake Mallery fights his own war for freedom.

Living in East Haven, Conn., Jake feels like a servant to his father and hopeless in his love with a bonded servant girl. But when Jake, never completely attached to the revolutionary cause, is imprisoned for over a year on a British prison ship, he learns what the loss of freedom and the hatred of captors feel like. On board, he learns through his friendship with Fortnum, who had been born a slave, that there "was nothing about being owned that was acceptable to a man," destroying Jake's earlier assumption that well-treated slaves were happy. As M.T. Anderson did in his Octavian Nothing novels and Laurie Halse Anderson does inChains(2008) andForge(2010), Hughes examines the paradoxes and hypocrisies surrounding liberty in our War of Independence, but on a smaller, more domestic stage. In the five Fourths of July covered in Hughes' straightforward and well-conceived novel, Jake goes from boy to rebel to soldier, from prisoner to patriot, and returns to find home a new place and himself "[n]ot changed, but changing. Not healed, but healing."

A fine addition to collections on the war and an eye-opening look at the horrors of British prison ships, where 11,500 Americans died.(Historical fiction. 10 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142421123
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 4/4/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 524,725
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Pat Raccio Hughes lives in Narbeth, Pennsylvania.

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