cover image Sons of Liberty

Sons of Liberty

Adele Griffin, Peter McCarty. Hyperion Books, $14.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0351-4

Rock Kindle, a seventh-grade history buff, is fascinated by war but is blind to the one that is brewing under his own roof. His older brother, Cliff, is getting fed up with their militant father's belittling remarks and harsh punishments, which include waking the boys in the middle of the night to do calisthenics and chores. Rock, on the other hand, admires and defends his father's toughness (""All he's doing is trying to improve us, as a family. And I think that's wicked decent, actually""). Rock thinks his life is easy when compared to that of his best friend Liza, who gets beaten by her stepfather. But after Liza runs away, Rock begins to notice how his own family is crumbling. In a gripping climax, he is forced to do some quick soul-searching, and choose whether or not to join the rest of his family in abandoning his father. Griffin's (Split Just Right) pointedly jarring dialogue and keen ear for adolescent jargon have a magnetic quality few readers will be able to resist. Pulled into Rock's nightmarish existence as an abuse victim, they will witness a heartwrenching example of split loyalties. Rock's ""wake-up call"" does not necessarily provide a happy ending or clear solution. Reflecting on the casualties of his shattered home life and his betrayal, he acknowledges that ""revolution is a strange and complicated thing."" Ages 10-up. (Sept.)