cover image Ashes


Laurie Halse Anderson. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4169-6146-8

Picking up in June 1781, three years after Forge (2010), this thrilling conclusion to Anderson’s Seeds of America trilogy finds former slaves Isobel and Curzon finally locating Isobel’s younger sister, Ruth, on a South Carolina plantation. The reunion is not a happy one: while Ruth, now 12, has been cared for by fellow slaves on the plantation, she rebuffs Isobel. Curzon and Isobel are also at odds over his desire to enlist in the fight for independence. Despite the discord, the three head north—joined by Aberdeen, an escaped slave from the plantation—stopping in Williamsburg, Va., where patriots are preparing for an assault on Yorktown. As in the previous two books, Anderson’s vividly detailed writing immerses readers in the hardships of her heroes’ travels and the harsh realities of war. Isobel’s eventual reconciliation with Ruth, her growing understanding of Curzon’s need to fight, and her recognition of the true feelings between them all work to guide the story to an emotionally satisfying conclusion. It’s a gripping finish to an epic journey that speaks resoundingly to the human capacity to persevere. Ages 10–14. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Oct.)