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badgerbag ([personal profile] badgerbag) wrote2008-08-14 08:59 pm
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Rebecca's War!

OMG! A few days ago I was thinking of this book that I loved when I was little -- Rebecca's War -- about a teenage girl left to be the head of her household in Philadelphia when the British invade the city. I remember how she was brave and resourceful. It was a good thing to fall asleep to, to pretend to be in her situation, carrying supplies to the prisoners and evading the soldiers on ice skates, keeping secrets about smuggled stuff and privateers, keeping her brother and sister fed, and how she made friends with the wounded British officer who was quartered in her house who had grudging respect for her even as he in the end discovers her loyalty to the rebel country is way stronger than their friendship. Because I just read this long biography of Benjamin Franklin, I thought of the strong impression I had of the history of the revolution and realized much of it was from this children's book.

Sooooo I just started it tonight and it's FANTASTIC. It's way better than I remember -- in other words better than I knew how to judge when I was a kid or a teenager. It's well written! It's crammed with actual history and realistic detail! I've read a ton of history and personal narrative of the time, and it fits right in. The character of Rebecca IS brave and resourceful and cool and feminist. The author, Ann Finlayson, has written a bunch of non-fiction & history books - now I'm very curious to find any other fiction by her.

There was just a scene of lovely subtlety when Rebecca dodges and darts and lies and tricks her way in to General Cornwallis's offices, to ask him to tell the mean officer quartered on them that he has to get out of her dead mother's room where she and her sister and brother are staying, with all their nice things and the SECRET COMPARTMENT, and he shuffles her off to an aide de camp, who remarks finally, WHAT... you mean to say you have bothered the GENERAL, to have your lodger moved across the hall? She agrees. The beautiful bit is his throwaway comment, something like "...even their children!" In other words that even the little teenage girls of the rebels are bold and demanding and irrepressible.

What a great book. Okay, I'm going back to it. I'm so pleased that it's not just good - but waaay better!

Rebecca's War

(Anonymous) 2009-12-14 10:36 pm (UTC)(link)
I have to ask you this - is there a scene in this book in which she and her brother use a kind of code with their feet when they are trying to get a message across? and a scene in which she tries to give the British soldier some drugged beverage which he suspects, so he changes the cups and then she changes them back and he DOES get the drugged one, to his surprise?

If so, it is a book I have remembered for about 40 years.
If you put an answer, I will come back here to see if it is here, as I know nothing about having a dreamwidth account and I am sure I would never remember my password!