Written by Avi
Review by Sarah Hendess

One spring day in 1774, thirteen-year-old Noah Cope watches members of the Sons of Liberty drag his father from their Massachusetts home and tar and feather him for being loyal to the King of England. After Noah’s father dies of his injuries, the Sons of Liberty return for Noah, beating him brutally when he cannot reveal the names of the town’s other secret Loyalists. Noah and his family then flee to Boston where they believe the British Army will protect them.

To earn money to support his family, Noah takes a job at a tavern frequented by John Hancock and Samuel Adams and passes information he overhears to the British Army. He befriends a fellow employee, a free Black boy named Jolla, who challenges him to question everything he’s grown up believing.

In Loyalty, Avi has taken a unique position on the American Revolution: Both sides were wrong. Through Noah’s eyes, readers see the brutality the Sons of Liberty perpetrated against anyone who disagreed with them but also the oppression wrought by the British. Noah’s friendship with Jolla makes him question how both sides can claim to support liberty while they both enslave Blacks.

Avi compels readers to see beyond the traditional black-and-white narrative of the Revolution, and his depictions of the misinformation that spread on both sides feels current. While the formal writing style is period appropriate, it holds readers at arm’s length, making this book more suited for advanced middle-grade readers than for reluctant readers. Parents may also want to be aware of graphic violence in several scenes. Overall, however, this book is a timely, thought-provoking piece from a middle-grades master.