Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Banned Books Week - Book Review "The Fighting Ground" by Avi

For the occasion of Banned Books Week I decided to pull a book that I didn't know off of banned books list and give it a read. Because being subversive through reading is a favorite activity of mine. My mistake was I didn't follow up and see why this book had been banned, but I have my own suppositions which I will get to. The book I picked was "The Fighting Ground" by Avi. If the name Avi sounds familiar to you, maybe you also read "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" as a young person in school. I know I did! Anyway, back to the matter at hand....

This book is set in a 24 hour period and instead of having chapters with numbers and/or titles they are times. Which helps you keep the 24 hour in perspective, April 3 1778.

Our main character is Jonathon. His dad and his father have both fought the British and he is eager for his chance to fight. Though his father, still battling a leg injury incurred while he fought, tells him he can't (even though he thinks he's a grown man at 13.) The bells in town ring, which means there's important news and Jonathon goes to the pub to see what is happening. There's British soldiers coming for their town, and they have to defend it. 
He borrows a musket from the pub owner and marches off with a few other men from town, under the order of a mysterious Colonel on a horse.

You know how sometimes the worst thing that can happen to you is that you get exactly what you want? That's what happens to Jonathon.

He experiences war and terror and indecision and panic and all of the things that come with war. It is not the romanticized thing that he had in his head. It is terrifying and loud and there's nothing romantic or wonderful about it. The book does a great job of conveying Jonathon's panic and the whole thing feels really claustrophobic.

I'd assume that it got banned somewhere because of the violence. And dead people. But I think banning this book does a disservice to  kids. With "shoot 'em up" games and violent movies kids can probably get detached from the true violence and personal cost of warfare. 

Let the kids read it. Let the adults read it. Read it.


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