Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Review: My Name is Resolute

In January, the History Channel did a mini-series called Sons of Liberty. It was awesome. It was interesting to see the American Revolution from the perspective of Sam Adams (who I didn't realize was actually important, or a Patriot), John Hancock, John Adams, and Paul Revere. I liked that it told the story of Margaret Gage, the wife of the commanding British general, General Thomas Gage. Even though I knew America would win its independence, the show was effective at depicting the uncertainty of America winning its freedom.

My Name is Resolute by Nancy Turner was recommended by Amy one night when I was desperate for a good read. January and February were very dry months; I tried to read The Burgess Boys, The Boston Girl, First Frost, The First Bad Man, and The Miniaturist with no success. It was a great suggestion. Resolute is the daughter of a plantation owner in Jamaica. We learn early on about an undercurrent of tension in the family regarding a family acquaintance, Uncle Rafe. It's difficult to see whose side Uncle Rafe is on, and Resolute is clearly on the side of distrust. Shortly after being introduced to the main characters - Resolute, her sister Patience, brother August, and Uncle Rafe - Resolute and her family are captured by pirates and loaded on a ship for the Americas.

Resolute's life is full of adventure. She endures the horrors of being in a slave hold aboard the ship,  witnessing (without understanding) the nightly violations of her sister by the pirates (including our favorite uncle, Uncle Rafe), and being kept alive on hard tac and rum. In the midst of all of this, all she ever wants to do is get back to her mother, the only family member who didn't make it onto the ship. Her determination to go back home carries her through landing in the Americas, being sold as an indentured slave, and kidnapping by Indians. Miraculously, she is able to stay with her sister Patience in one way or another until, 7 years after their initial capture, Patience helps Resolute escape their life as captives in a convent in Montreal only to abandon her, alone and friendless, near Lexington, Massachusetts.

It is in Lexington that the story picks up. I loved watching the events that lead up to the Revolution through Resolute's experiences as a wife, mother, and weaver of fine linens and wools. The mentions of a baby Paul Revere, of John Hancock running goods to the colonies to avoid paying taxes, of illegal Redcoat searches of Resolute's home in attempts to find banned goods like wool, iron, and guns, told a bit of history and helped me to sympathize with the colonists and their dream of freedom from Crazy King George. It produced the same uncertainty I felt while watching Sons of Liberty. I was so glad I'd already met Margaret Gage and her special friend Dr. Joseph Warren. They were depicted as having an affair together in the show, but were just seen together in different scenes in the book, but I appreciated thinking I knew their unstated, but widely believed, subplot.

But mainly, I just loved Resolute. She wasn't a perfect character. She has uncommon good fortune, with a few generous benefactresses that were a bit of a stretch. After she grows up, the book details what happens to her, focusing on the story more than character building. But I didn't mind it; it was satisfying to just read a tale that didn't have to have a big reveal, or a surprise ending that required me to go back to look for clues. It ended in a mostly tidy way, but that's ok. The story brought to life so many real and vibrant characters, all with their own agendas. If you just want a long, satisfying, good story with excellent writing, character development, and a dose of accurate history to go along with it, I would recommend this book.


Amy Sorensen said...

Yay! I'm so glad you liked it!