Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson is the third novel in The Seeds of America Trilogy. It follows the protagonist Isabel, a slave, on her journey to freedom during the American Revolution. Isabel is accompanied by her longtime friend Curzon; her sister, Ruth; and Aberdeen, Ruth’s friend. In the beginning of the novel, Ruth and Curzon are on a mission to find Ruth. Once Ruth is found, Aberdeen joins them to escape their enslavement and start a new life in the north.
I really enjoyed this book. I had read the two novels of the trilogy in the past (Chains and Forge), but remembered little; however, this did not cause me to enjoy the book any less. I enjoyed how historically accurate the novel was. The dates and recounts of the events within the American Revolution were interesting to learn about from the protagonist’s point of view. The novel was also written in first person with the grammar and slang used from the time period. I liked this detail of the book because it made Isabel’s story more real and authentic. Something I greatly appreciated was Isabel’s position on the war between the Loyalist and the Colonist. Isabel wanted to support the Colonists, but had difficulty believing in their claims of freedom, as she was a black slave and doubted they would follow through with their promises. I liked Isabel’s belief because I found it to be true for slaves at the time. The book was well written and the plot was interesting, as it depicted her life as a slave on her path to freedom. The storyline was not predictable, which I enjoyed, and alluded to actual events in history.
There were many surprises and memorable events in the book. What I found to be the most memorable was Isabel’s account during the Battle of Yorktown. This period extends throughout many chapters of the book, but is the most memorable to me because of how realistic and descriptive it is of the environment, the battle, and the people involved in the battle.
Reviewed by Emily, Grade 11, Gayton Library