April Morning ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp
The American Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. It was professional British troops, numbering in the thousands, against non-professional Colonials, numbering in the hundreds. The British were marching from Boston to procure military supplies the Colonials had stockpiled in Concord. The Colonials didn’t want to fight but were forced to it. They only wanted the English invaders to leave their land and let them live in peace.
April Morning is a historical novel by Howard Fast, told in the first-person voice of one Adam Cooper, fifteen years old. Adam lives with his family in the village of Lexington in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. On the morning of April 19, 1775, the people of Lexington receive word that the British army, possibly two thousand men, is headed toward them. They assemble a small body of “committeemen” to meet the British. The committeemen are underequipped, of course, and they know they are no match for the professional British army. They believe, naively, that all they will need to do is reason with the British to get them to desist and return to Boston.
The British immediately begin firing on the villagers on the “common” of Lexington before a word can be exchanged. (This is “the shot heard ‘round the world.”) Our young protagonist, Adam Cooper, witnesses his father being among the first to be shot. The Colonials fight back, with much bloodshed on both sides. Adam has an inadequate firearm that shoots birdshot, but still he does his part. In the course of one day, he goes from being a boy to being a man.
April Morning is not a serious examination of war, but is more a personal story of how the beginning of a war affects one person, one family, and one small village. It abounds with clichés and at no time has an authentic eighteenth century feel to it, in the way, for example, of Mackinlay Kantor’s historical novel, Valley Forge. Still, it’s an engaging enough book in its own way that has become a much-read classic, especially by younger readers.
Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp