My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
*Part of my "Reviewing Children's Classics" series.
I don't remember reading this one growing up, which is strange because of my love of books and all things history. I now see I didn't miss much, although my perspective might have been different if I had read it when I was 11 instead.
Tim is growing up during the turbulent times prior to and during the American Revolution. He adores his obnoxious big brother, Sam, who is attending Yale and appears to be the smuggest, least likable person in the world. If I had to hear the phrase, "scored a telling point" one more time, I might have thrown the book away. Seriously, dude, you are the world's worst. Anyway, Tim has some serious hero worship going on for his big brother, who decides to drop out of Yale, steal his father's rifle (really, Sam? You are a bad person) and join the revolutionaries. Sam's parents are opposed to this, naturally, as no parent wants their 16-year-old son to join the military during war time. Sam does what he wants, and ultimately we get to the title of the book.
Between Sam running off to enlist and the ending where he dies, a lot of sad, depressing things happen. It's Revolutionary times. Besides the war, you have cholera outbreaks, hunger, and decapitations. Plus you have to endure Sam's girlfriend Betsy Read, who is tied with Sam for "most unlikeable character is a children's book". For a young woman who should have been behaving like an adult, she acted like an obnoxious child.
I'm sure there are better historical fiction books out there about the American Revolution. The only thing that saved this from one-star territory was the authors' notes at the end. I liked how they explained who and what were historically accurate and where they embellished or created things for the book. For the additional interesting information, I added one star. My recommendation? You can skip this one.
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