Gold Rush Girl) story centers 13-year-old Noah Cope during the two years leading up to the American Revolution, tracing the steady unraveling of the boy’s devotion to his white family’s Loyalist stance as he witnesses—and experiences—events that begin to challenge his beliefs about England and the Sons of Liberty. When Noah’s pastor father is brutally tarred for proclaiming his loyalty to the British crown, the frightened Cope family leaves their small Massachusetts town for Boston. There, Noah, determined to avenge his father’s death, begins spying for the British army, posing as a worker in a tavern frequented by the Sons of Liberty. His boss, Jolla, is a free Black man who encourages Noah to question everything and think for himself, and the two slowly build a friendship in increasingly precarious conditions. Avi makes history immediate and accessible through Noah’s heartfelt voice, though conversations between Jolla and Noah, which address issues of slavery and freedom during that era, unfortunately perpetuate the idea that marginalized people are responsible for educating more privileged people about injustice. An author’s note discusses continuing controversy surrounding terms such as loyalty, patriots, and traitors. Ages 10–12. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman. (Feb.)
"[A] novel that challenges [young readers'] ideas of American history and their notions of loyalty and patriotism." (Alan Gratz) —
New York Times Book Review
"A fascinating, complex and rarely seen view of the American Revolutionary War." — School Library Journal (starred review)
"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." —
“Avi’s narrative, told through dated entries, ebbs and flows with the tides of war, gaining intensity as the Battles of Lexington and Concord loom. The story is spiked with lively dialogue.” — Horn Book Magazine
"[A] novel that challenges [young readers'] ideas of American history and their notions of loyalty and patriotism." (Alan Gratz)
New York Times Book Review
Gr 4–7—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.— Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY
A 13-year-old Tory spies on the Sons of Liberty.
When they overhear Noah’s minister father read the line, “bless, and defend, and save the king” from a prayer book, neighbors in their small Massachusetts village storm the house and coat him in “boiling tar”; three days later he dies in agony. Noah, his mother, and his sisters flee to Boston, where they move in with Noah’s great-uncle. Noah, determined to both support his family and defend his father’s honor, takes a job in the Green Dragon, a tavern that is a known haunt of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty, a group of rebel Whigs. There he works under Jolla, a young free Black man, who, as the rebellion churns on, challenges Noah’s ideals of liberty and loyalty by pointing out how both sides enslave and coerce Black people. Noah’s reaction to his father’s horrific death, along with other characters’ emotions throughout the novel, comes across as muted and distant; the journallike narration tells far more than it shows. Noah’s relationship with Jolla feels like a plot device in which the latter functions as the wise, enlightened protector who educates the White boy about racism. Jolla devotes considerable energy to guiding Noah while confiding in him to an unrealistic degree. A climactic final scene follows a White savior script without questioning the underlying assumptions.
A flawed attempt to examine Colonial America through a nuanced lens. (author's note)
(Historical fiction. 10-14)