Divided Loyalties

Written by Phyllis Hall Haislip
Review by Cindy Vallar

Eleven-year-old Teddy finds himself caught between two factions right in his own home in Williamsburg, Virginia. His father works for the Continental Congress and spends much of his time in Philadelphia, which leaves Teddy without a guiding hand at home. His pregnant mother, descended from an English lord, vows to live as a loyal British subject even in this revolutionary town. To further complicate the tense situation, Teddy must deal with a creepy tutor and the fact that his father disagrees with Teddy’s wish to become a cabinetmaker. While he can do nothing about the latter, Teddy plots to get rid of Mr. Grum instead. The attempt backfires, and as a result his father arranges for Teddy to become a fifer in the militia. He accidentally enlists in the wrong unit, and finds himself participating in the Battle of Camden in South Carolina in August 1780.

Teddy is a typical boy with a sense of humor and a determination to succeed. His fear surfaces from time to time but never stands in the way of doing his duty. Although he doesn’t age much from the start of the book to the end, he matures in mind and spirit. A poignant and heartfelt depiction of the War for Independence, this coming-of-age novel highlights the hardships and struggles even the children of colonial America had to endure.