Twenty-One Heroes

Written by Sam A. Forman
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

This story of three young people – Katherine Mayhew, Joshua Spencer and Ezra Wright – is set at the dawn of the American Revolution, and explores how the ideas of liberty, democracy and a new way of thinking about the role of government (by the people, for the people) affects them. It is a coming-of-age tale for the characters as well as the budding new country.

Forman’s first book, Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hills, and the Birth of American Liberty, is a non-fiction volume that explains the role Dr. Warren played in the American colonies and, later, the development of the United States. This acclaimed book is an important addition to our information regarding the Founding Fathers.

However, fiction is a different animal, and a successful historical novel uses different techniques from a non-fiction book, which is the problem with Twenty-One Heroes. There are many facts, but the story itself lacks tension; the reader is not compelled to keep turning the pages. Perhaps in an effort to mimic the speech or language usage of the 18th century, the writer has unwittingly created labyrinthine sentences that have little rhythm or grace. Whatever the intention, the result is less than satisfying. For ages 12-17.