Newbery Medalist Avi channels the mood, language, and danger of the Revolutionary War in this seamless blend of history and fiction, set in British-occupied New York City. Twelve-year-old Sophia Calderwood idolizes her older brother, William, a fervent Patriot soldier who has gone missing after the Battle of Brooklyn. In the first half of the book, Sophia’s desperate search for William leads her to several deplorable prisons where rebels are being held. The second half takes place when Sophia, now 15, becomes a spy who uncovers the truth about Benedict Arnold. The book is chockful of fascinating historical details, including the conditions for those stranded in New York and the failed meetings between Arnold and John André, his (real-life) British contact. Avi doesn’t sugarcoat the brutal realities of war as Sophia races to find help intercepting John André, who was also a boarder in her home years earlier and her first crush, in this rich, nail-biting thriller.
Megan of Pompano Beach wrote me and asked, “Do you incorporate real events into your writing?”
The answer is, yes and no. The about to be published Sophia’s War is full of things that really happened during the American Revolution, but the main character, Sophia Calderwood, is fictional. Yet, I tell the story as if she had a great deal to do with what happened. Hard Gold and Iron Thunder were written much the same way. True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is a complete fiction, but I sure tried to get my facts about ships and sailing right. The Poppy books are tales about animals, but they are full of things that happened in my own family life—not that you would know it. Seer of Shadows, a ghost story, uses what I knew from my days as an amateur photographer. But the emotions and relationships I depict in my books are most often based on things out of my own experience, lived or observed. The facts—particularly for the historical fiction—comes from research. I suspect all fiction is created this way. No matter how fantastic the tale, there is some real connection to the writer.