It is 1782 and the war for freedom has been going on for many years. The fight between the colonies and England is drawing to an end, but some battles are just beginning. In his fictional account, Revolutionary, Alex Myers introduces Deborah Sampson, a young indentured servant, who has more aspirations in life than just being bound to a life of service in a family. She is not free to make her own life, but that doesn’t stop her from dreaming and noticing that the young men in society have much greater freedom and autonomy than women. When a recruiter for the army comes to town, she makes a bold move. Dressed as a young man, Deborah enlists. With the promise of a better pay and the opportunity to venture forth freely, she begins a daring adventure of a young woman living among men, fighting alongside them while maintaining all appearances of being a man. There is the constant threat of being discovered. Is the choice she made worth it?
As Deborah seeks to escape from her oppressive life, one can’t help but feel great empathy for her plight and other women of that era. Social norms, being what they were, dictated strict codes of dress, roles and expectations for men and women, with women bearing a much heavier portion of the dogma. While Deborah steps into a role that is physically much more challenging, it is abundantly clear that tasting freedom is worth the double life she lives.
While the writing and storytelling were excellent, the book did seem to have an underlying agenda. There seemed to be a question as to whether Deborah was using her disguise to obtain freedom or whether she was drawn to the disguise for another reason. In his personal life, author Alex Myers has advocated for the rights of transgender individuals. Some of that advocacy seems to be transferred onto the life of Deborah Sampson. I found myself wondering if the internal struggles she had in the story were realistically portrayed or if the author’s struggle was being transferred to the character. In any event, the story is well done and presents a unique perspective on life during the Revolutionary War. Those who appreciate the nuanced perspectives on the past will enjoy this story.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.