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It is March in the year of 1774 in Salem, MA, and fourteen-year-old Daniel West, son of the town's doctor, is increasingly caught up in the sometimes violent pre-Revolutionary War conflict between Tories or loyalists to the King, and Whigs or patriots to the colonial cause. As a result of England's tax on tea, the rowdy Liberty Boys are engaging in wild acts. Daniel and his father, a widower, are definitely Tories. In the course of the book, which covers the next twelve months, Mr. West remarries and Daniel turns fifteen. His father wants to send him away to England for his further education and to escape the escalation of tensions in the colonies. However, Daniel is disappointed by the response of England, then by his father's actions, and finally by himself on a night when all of Salem seems to go wild. Eventually, he must come to terms with himself, re-examine his loyalty to the King, and make the difficult decisions of a man. What will his decision be? Jean Fritz is a wonderful author. Her short biographical books, especially those about our founding fathers and other American heroes, are excellent for young children. Based on an actual confrontation between British troops and the townspeople of Salem which predated by a couple of months the battles of Concord and Lexington, this book is an exciting tale of a young man's journey from loyalty to the King to proud support of his new country. It is young adult historical fiction at its best. There does not seem to be as much children's historical fiction from the Revolutionary War period as there is from the Civil War period. Personally, I think that Johnny Tremain is just a little bit better, but I definitely liked Early Thunder much more than My Brother Sam Is Dead. We did this as a family read aloud, and I had to edit out one word that might be thought of as cursing. Otherwise, we enjoyed it immensely.
This book is truly a classic in my eyes. I had no idea what I was reading when I picked it up, but I really thoroughly enjoyed it. The author of this book did a wonderful job in describing emotions that people feel everyday, and the quality of the writing was amazing. I would definitely reccomend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about the American Revolution, and really, anyone who likes to read!!!