Monday, June 20, 2011

Will Northaway and the Price of Loyalty

Will Northaway and the Price of Loyalty is book three in Susan Olasky's Young American Patriots series. In it, Will is serving as an indentured servant to a Loyalist printer. Although young Will is sympathetic to the Patriots, he has a hard time balancing his beliefs and his duty.

Will's confusion over his role in the conflict leads him to witness a smuggling operation. However, Will's conviction that he shouldn't be involved with smuggling makes him a suspect when the smugglers are turned in to the authorities. Even Will's friends have a hard time believing he is innocent.

Will becomes increasingly isolated, but continues to work at the Loyalist printing shop. Eventually, Will runs into (literally) Betsy Teasdale, and receives comfort and direction from her father, a devout Christian. When Will's boss, Mr. Mein, receives death threats, Mr. Teasdale counsels Will to "Love your neighbor as yourself." Will heeds Teasdale's advice and warns Mein of the plot against him. When Mein leaves town in search of safety, he releases Will from his contract and leaves Will a free man.

What I Like: This is an interesting look at the various conflicts in the Colonial era. Will's struggles seem genuine, and the book has enough action to keep readers turning the page.

I also like the length of the book. It is short (93 pages) and has short chapters. It would appeal to many readers, but especially to older boys who aren't fond of reading. Will is sixteen, and the historical content is interesting, so the book would be perfect for use in a history class or home school curriculum.

What I Dislike: I was a little lost as I jumped right into the third book. I could have used more background information. Chapter 16 particularly seems to tie up loose ends from the other books, but was confusing for me.

Also, Will's dilemmas are not at all clear cut. He alternates between being respectful of Mein, or disrespectful. He is just starting to learn about God, but he doesn't seem to have clear answers or ideas about what course of action he should take. The book would bring up lots of issues for discussion, but Will is too conflicted to provide a good role model.

Overall Rating: Very Good for reluctant readers, Good otherwise

Age Appeal: 9 and up

Publisher Info: Crossway, 2005; ISBN: 1-58134-477-5; , 93 pages, $5.99

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Special Info: Read our reviews of other Will Northaway books here.

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