April Morning, by Howard Fast

Cover ImageFinished 4-23-09, rating 4/5, ya historical fiction, pub. 1961

For myself, I had the feeling that I was looking at my father for the very first time, not seeing him as I had always seen him in the vague wholeness of age and distance, but looking at the face of a surprisingly young man, his wide, brown face serious and intent upon me, his dark eyes shadowed in their inquiry, his broad full-lipped mouth tight and thoughtful.  How was it, I wondered, that I had never noticed before what a strikingly handsome man he was?  How was it that I had seen in him only the strength of overbearance and not the thewed strength of those massive brown arms spread on the desk with the white shirt sleeves rolled high and carelessly?  It was no wonder that men listened to him and heeded his words.

Chapter – The Night

It’s 1775 and the Battle of Lexington is about to take place in Adam’s backyard, but he doesn’t know it.  He is still hung up on feeling anger toward his father, unappreciated by his mother, and maligned by his younger brother.  He is a typical 15 year old, caught between wanting to grow up and needing to hold on to his childhood angst.  When their small community is warned that the British are headed their way, the men arm themselves, but hope that diplomacy may rule the day.  Adam is in the second line of defense when the British come through, guns firing and the blood flowing.  Adam started that April morning as a boy, but by the end of the day he had grown up witnessing murder, feeling despair, vowing revenge, and realizing that family is the most important thing. 

I loved this book.  I thought Adam’s adolescent relationship with his overbearing father was so real that it is really the heart of the book.  The battle and the rag tag way the men fought back that day at Lexington was a wonderful view into the ways of war over 200 years ago and it is interesting to contrast it with what we do to each other during war today.  This slim novel takes place over that one April day when Adam was forced into adulthood too soon, as was the case with many boys in 1775.

This book is told with such poignant honesty that it will touch your heart.  Although it is about life in the 1700’s, I think teens will recognize the feelings in this book and it may help them put their own feelings into perspective.  I’m glad I was able to watch Adam on his journey to manhood.