Review: The Fighting Ground by Avi
Jonathan’s father doesn’t like to talk about his time in the army. And because he’s only 13, Jonathan can’t exactly enlist. So when the chance comes to see some action, Jonathan seizes the opportunity, joining a ragtag team of volunteers to defend a nearby village from King George’s men. Over the next 24 hours, Jonathan admires, doubts and comes to fear the Minuteman he’s joined. If they’re fighting against tyranny, why is it so hard to tell one side from the other?
The Fighting Ground doesn’t feel like a traditional Scott O’Dell winner. We don’t see famous battles or Revolutionary War generals, so the book becomes a very personal account of one boy’s journey through the war. It reminds me most of My Brother Sam is Dead, and not just because it’s equally depressing—the moral ambiguity of both armies gives it a depth beyond the expected pro-American/anti-British stance. (Fact: the title of Creepiest Character belongs to a nameless American Corporal).
And it’s impressive how Avi can tell a complete story in the span of 24 hours. Instead of chapter headings, we get timestamps, so we can see, sometimes minute-by-minute, as Jonathan’s perceptions flip completely around. But there are also slow, agonizing moments when Jonathan sneak up on something that you know can’t be good–just like horror film characters who simply have to open that door. So: a thrilling book with a nice glimpse of history, and it’s the perfect partner to Chains.