***This is the final book in a trilogy. I recommend reading the first two books before this one.***
Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy) by Laurie Halse Anderson is a stunning conclusion that bring Isabel and Curzon full circle in their own struggle for freedom as the country nears the battle at Yorktown and the end of the American Revolution. Isabel and Curzon have been searching for her younger sister Ruth for months after fleeing Valley Forge and Bellingham, who had held Isabel in chains once again. They are slowly making their way south to find her sister with their forged papers of freedom. Tensions between them have grown, and Isabel fears being abandoned by him, even as she knows that he wants to rejoin the Patriots’ cause against the British.
“There was no way of figgering what he saw when he looked at me, for he’d gown skilled at hiding the truth from his eyes. Time and hard travel had much changed us both.” (pg. 4)
“‘Don’t forget how to be gentle,’ she warned. ‘Don’t let the hardness of the world steal the softness of your heart. The greatest strength of all is daring to love. …'” (pg. 39)
In the chaos of war, these young people are eager to hide themselves in the confusion and use it to their advantage, but danger continues to cross their paths. But even when they find Ruth, there are further battles to be had as southern men continue to hold onto their slaves and purchase new ones to run their plantations and use those slaves — women, children, and men — very ill. They are forced to hold onto their stories for strength and to turn to one another in quiet to rejuvenate their resolve. Isabel and Curzon have been together on their own for a long time, and when Ruth and Aberdeen join their band and head northward, both need to adjust and learn to be flexible.
“‘Why bother? You won’t know what you’re planting?’
‘Not until they sprout, I won’t,’ I admitted. ‘But I’ve got to start with something. Once they grow and bloom, I’ll know what to call them, and eventually the garden will be orderly.’
‘A fool-headed way to farm,’ he grumbled.
‘Tis a fool-headed way to grow a country, too, but that’s what we’re doing.’
‘Now you’ve gone barmy, Isabel,’ he said sourly.
I walked over to the blanket, gathered the small handful of the good seeds, and sat back down next to him.
‘Seems to me this is the seed time for America.'” (pg. 271)
Anderson’s trilogy provides an intimate look at life as a slave, life as slaves on the run, and people simply searching for their own lives in the midst of a country in turmoil. Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy) by Laurie Halse Anderson is a solid conclusion filled with reconciliation and hope. With the promise of freedom brought to the fore by the Revolution against the British, it allows all who are oppressed to dream of something more.
- Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy)
- Forge (The Seeds of America Trilogy)
- The Impossible Knife of Memory
- Fever 1793
About the Author:
Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists.