Cover Image: Loyalty

Loyalty

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Member Reviews

Avi, always a masterful writer, has crafted another stunning tale set during the Revolutionary War.  

Noah flees with his family to Boston after his father is brutally killed by revolutionaries. Noah can only think about revenge so he becomes a spy for the British. He soon sees the dark underside of the war and the lies and hypocrisy of it all. Now torn between his roots and the budding young nation, Noah must decide where his loyalty truly lies. 

Noah quickly learns that the world isn't black and white. War is a complicated issue and this puts young readers right into the mind of a child during that time. The content can be dark but Avi manages to keeps it light enough to be age appropriate without sacrificing the gravity of the era. 

The addition of the black character Jolla really put the time period into perspective, especially while Noah grapples with his own views on slavery. 

Definitely a great addition to a classroom library as well.
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Newbery Medalist Avi explores the American Revolution from a fresh perspective in the story of a young Loyalist turned British spy navigating patriotism and personal responsibility during the lead-up to the War of Independence.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc of "Loyalty" by Avi.

Noah Cope sees his father being dragged out to be tarred and feathered in the middle of 1774. This only confirms his loyalty to King and England. With little option Noah and his family move to Boston to live with distant family. Here Noah must work and becomes a British spy working in a tavern to gather information on the Sons of Liberty. Will being away from his father's influence and small town of Tullbury allow Noah to start thinking for himself or will his loyalty get in the way?

I thought that for a middle grade novel about the American Revolution this gave an interesting perspective, especially seeing as it was from a Loyalist perspective, and it was also fast paced enough that you don't get bored of all the information that is being given to you. Jolla was a great introduction to a Black character who didn't hold for simple fools and also occupied an almost unheard of place of power in this story. 

As an adult reader I found Noah very frustrating. He couldn't make a decision to save his life and even down to the end he really hadn't made a decision. I understand why he had to be the way that he was, to show growth of character and how even in war nothing is ever black and white, it can be so hard to choose sides. However, as an adult reading this it felt wishy-washy that Noah never was able to answer whether he was a Loyalist or not after the first few parts of the book. The dialogue between Noah and Jolla also was a bit frustrating at times and while I understand that spoken words might have been said like this the lack of words that were written down so that sentences were only half formed was a little frustrated to read versus what it would feel like to hear them spoken. Lastly I did dislike that the parts were labelled with the year. Since this only takes place between 1774 and 1776 and each section is given a date I think it was a bit redundant when each part was given a year, especially because there were many more than three parts so they were not even sectioned by year.

Overall I gave this book four stars out of five and would recommend it to middle grade readers, especially those who liked "Fever 1793" by Laurie Halse Anderson as it read a lot the same, especially the high action sections..
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Once again, Avi doesn’t disappoint.  I read Charlotte Doyle last year and lived it!  This book is also just as wonderful.  Avi writes books that really make you question life.  Noah is a young boy growing up during the American Revolution. His family supports the King.  The title of this book is Loyalty and it is also the theme.  I read it in one day.  
This is a young adult book, but I think adults will like it as well.  I want to thank the author, publisher, and Netgalley for a complimentary copy of the book. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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Loyalty is the newest published novel from my childhood favorite author. Newbery award-winning author, Avi, has written over 60 books for children and young adults.
In Loyalty, we get to explore the American Revolution from a whole new perspective. Fourteen-year-old Noah Cope describes his day to day as a young Loyalist turned British spy, navigating through the arduous ideals of patriotism and personal responsibility at a time when the hypocrisy of fighting to be liberated is still at the cost of those enslaved. 
It read like an intricate exploration of a time period that feels oddly relevant to our current time, as we still try to strike that delicate balance of trying to maintain our freedoms and figure out where our loyalties lie. 
This would make an excellent addition to an American Revolution curriculum, but it has a very slow plot progression. The uniqueness of the perspective and the discussions that would result from this book are worth the price of admission. 

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I love Avi but this was a bit of a chore to get through. I imagine kids would lose interest but those that really love history would probably like it.
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Noah’s loyalist dad is killed from being tarred and feathered so his mom takes the family to an uncle’s house in Boston. There, to be loyal to his dad’s beliefs in the Crown, he becomes a spy at a tavern run by a free Black man named Jolla. Jolla opens Noah’s eyes to the hypocrisy of the Sons of Liberty who want freedom for themselves but not for slaves and the British Loyalists who own slaves and forcibly use slaves as soldiers. Noah realizes he needs to think for himself about to whom he is loyal — but it’s not an easy choice. Avi does an incredible job showing Noah’s inner turmoil and sharing the historical setting and events, this would be a great book club book!
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A book about the American War of Independence.  It explores concepts of loyalty between family, black and white people, the loyalists and the revolutionaries.  The main theme is to "think for yourself".  

The book is well researched.  The characters, descriptions of place and events are all believable and the conflicts within individuals are explained very well.  Very much like Halse Anderson's "Chains".  I hope it will be read not just for its historical relevance but for its relevance today in a number of conflicts including black lives matter.
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Thank you Netgalley and Clarion Books for the gifted book that I read along with the library audio.

To be honest, it's hard as an American to read a Revolutionary War book where the protagonist is a Loyalist. But I really appreciate how Noah, the main character, has to examine where his loyalties lie throughout this book. How he has to examine each side's perspective and weigh the pros and cons of siding with each. I think this is a great book to discuss with kids about how good and bad in politics is almost never black and white. This is my favorite type of book because it was very character driven and not a ton of plot happens, but I do think that it is a fascinating read, especially for the middle grade crowd.

Content Warning: murder, racism, war violence
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This was a really good book! I found it a little hard to get into but I really enjoyed reading it. Noah's journey is very interesting and I loved the way we got to see the way he changed. This was a great book!
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I have mixed feelings about this one. I really liked the premise, telling the story of the American War of Independence, from the POV of a boy loyal to the English King. It certainly started really well, you got a strong feeling of the divided loyalties in a community and how that increasingly spilled over into hostility. The characters were convincing and the story certainly came across as well researched. As the novel progressed Noah begins to understand there is  no black and white in war, and his chosen side is equally capable of wrongdoing. Unfortunately this got rather bogged down in the middle. What had started well, became very dry and I struggled to remain engaged with the story. I liked the relationship with Jolla and how that finally resolved itself, but overall i felt this was a good story with a lot of potential, that got a little lost.
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This book was such so unique. Set during the onset of the Revolutionary War, Noah, the main character, starts as a loyalist due to some horrific events (he's father dying from being tarred and feathered and Noah being' beaten).  Him and his family move to Boston to live with his mother's uncle and from there Noah becomes a spy for the British.  He befriends another boy, Jolla, who works at the tavern where he's spying.  Jolla is black and is a freeman.  He sees what Noah is doing and he's constantly telling him to form his own opinions and join the side of the war that he agrees with the most.  Noah witness many pinnacle events such as the Boston blockade, and the Battle of Lexington and Concord to name a few.  I would recommend this highly for any reader needing to read a historical fiction novel.  The story line more quickly, and there's action around every corner.  Read this for a unique perspective of loyalist vs patriot mixed in with moments that call out racial inequalities and the reality of being black in the colonies during this time.  This novel does not sweep under the rug the realities of founding fathers being slaveholders, or the contradiction of loyalist crying for freedom but also owning slaves.
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Such an important and powerful story. An important read for young people to understand perspectives and experiences different from their own
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In this issue driven book, Avi's characters wrestle with these questions: Who is a traitor? Who is a patriot? What is loyalty? What is freedom?  The answer  really depends on who is telling the story, and that is the crux of Avi's Loyalty. Noah's father had unflinching  pride in the British crown, and considered he and his family as loyal British citizens. Thirteen year old Noah never felt the need  to question anything his father believed, until he met Jolla, his slightly older manager at the Green Dragon Tavern.  Even though Noah accepted his father's political beliefs as the truth, when Jolla questioned why he held those beliefs,  Noah couldn't answer, and he realized that he didn't know. He had never had to think for himself.   As a Black freedman, Jolla has a vested interest in freedom, which he relaizes  only  white men willl enjoy. Noah's mother admonishes him to think for himself.  What??  Had she questioned her husband all along? Obviously, since women also do not enjoy true freedom.  In the two years depicted in the plot, both Tories and the Radicals make disastrous decisions based on misinformation; both sides torture those that don't agree with them; and both sides suffer. So who deserves one's loyalty?  This title is a strong choice for inclusion in middle school and high school history coursework.  It provides two points of view,  Loyalist and Black,  which are rarely seen in the presentation of the American Revolutionary War in school curriculum, and it provides ample outlets for discussion.  I highly recommend. Thank you to Netgalley and Clarion Books for the egalley
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Avi does not disappoint with his latest historical fiction book Loyalty. This book really tackled some tough issues for which there are no easy answers. Noah has grown up in a family where his father’s word was law, but when circumstances change dramatically, he is forced to decide if he should think for himself. Avi does an amazing job of taking on the point of view of both Loyalists and Patriots. This book will lead to important conversations!
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If you’ve read some of Avi’s other novels — Gold Rush Girl, Crispin, True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, etc. — then you know that they are impeccably researched and full of suspense and adventure. There’s also a formality to Avi’s tone that gives the work an overall heft. The same can be said of Loyalty.

Loyalty is a master class in examining an event from multiple viewpoints. Noah finds himself smack in the middle of British and colonists, and from where he sits, both sides are lacking. He’s forced to find what works best for him and realize that what’s best for him isn’t necessarily best for those he’s closest to.

It’s the push and pull of Noah’s situation that makes it so compelling. Even in the small moments, there’s this under riding tension that underscores the tenuous position Noah is in.

As always, Avi’s writing is engrossing. There’s a reason for the author’s Newberry Award and two Newberry Honors. Loyalty is an excellent look at the American Revolution.
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I'm fascinated by children's historical fiction set during the American Revolution -- so much so that I wrote a dissertation for my MA in Children's Literature on this topic (I analysed the portrayal of female characters living through the Revolution, looking at books published in 1893, 1931 & 1977). Avi's insightful novel, set in Boston and surrounding areas in the lead up to and beginnings of the conflict, is an excellent addition to children's Revolutionary War historical fiction. I hugely enjoyed the weaving of actual events and people with fictional characters -- Avi did extensive research to find historical nuggets to give the narrative authenticity, and the afterward provides readers with some information on his research process and approach to historical fiction.

But it is Avi's exploration of the moral ambiguities and complexities of the American Revolution that make this book especially powerful. Young Noah's father, a fierce Loyalist, is tarred, feathered and dies, and Noah is beaten up by those advocating for independence  (not a spoiler -- this happens right at the beginning). Noah is determined to remain loyal to the Crown, but a series of events challenge his heartfelt beliefs. His friend Jolla, a free Black young man, is even more conflicted as many Americans wanting independence, including their military leader George Washington, are slave-holders, and Jolla is afraid of being sold into slavery. The British aren't much better, placing little value on the lives of Black people, using them as pawns in a political & military game. The fundamental question of the book is 'what does loyalty mean, and who should we be loyal to?' Noah and Jolla find their own ways to answer this question.

Highly recommended.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Clarion Books for the digital advanced reader's copy.

It's 1775 and 13 year-old Noah Cope's father is a decided Loyalist. He is tarred and feathered for such a stance in a rebel town, and afterwards Noah declares his loyalty to England and swears to find a way to avenge his father's death.

However, when Noah's family moves to Boston, Noah has his views challenged. The English army uses press gangs to force men to join the Navy. They take over homes and take food from citizens. Yet, the rebels killed his father, and some of their leaders declare liberty on one hand yet enslave Black people in their homes. Is there a right side?

Noah watches all of this and wonders where his loyalties should lie. His father used to tell him what to do and who to believe, but that's gone now. He has to figure out who he is for himself.

In the words of his Black boss and friend, Jolla, "People are going to be loyal to what keeps them free. But in case you hadn't noticed, it's hard to know what that is."

It's particularly complicated for Jolla, when neither side has offered freedom to enslaved people. He can't even leave Boston, where people know him and will vouch for his free status. Even as a free young man, Jolla is still stuck because he cannot prove his freedom without a white person to speak on his behalf.

This was a quick read, but some parts didn't work for me.

Over time, Jolla's character does develop, but often he feels like a stock foil to Noah - there only to help and challenge Noah on his journey, and not a fully-developed character with his own life, frustrations, and struggles.

Also, while necessary to the story, there are some coincidences that simply felt too coincidental and made Noah's story feel less realistic.

And, ultimately, I guess that's why the book felt flat. It didn't feel fully grounded in a historical reality. It felt more like a story teaching a worthwhile and thoughtful lesson, than a compelling and authentic story of a young man living in the midst of the earliest days of the Rvolutionary War during the seige of Boston.

The best portions for me were less of Noah and more about what was happening in Boston itself.

All in all, a solid read with a thought-provoking premise with plenty of opportunities for discussion, particularly when considering our own times and what it truly means to be loyal and patriotic today.
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With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy in return for an honest review.

I think there are a lack of good books available for middle grade readers about the Revolutionary War. There are obviously titles to use, but nowhere near the number of books available, for say, World War 2. So I think it is definitely a book to add to the classroom or school library regarding this time period. That being said, I wasn't particularly engaged in the book, but I can think of several young readers who will like this. 

I think Avi did a solid job explaining thoughts on colonialism and race relations...choosing a side wasn't so cut and dry for everyone.. This quote in particular stood out to me,

"You're free, but you don't know it. You've built a cage out of notions and fears, but you don't see that the gate is open. It is. The least you can do is try to do whatever it is you want."
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From Newberry Medalist, Avi, Loyalty follows the emotional journey of Noah Cope, whose father is killed by rebel patriots and whose family must flee to Boston in the aftermath.  Determined to avenge his father's death, Noah turns to spying for the British, putting himself in a precarious situation.  It is during this back and forth interaction with both British soldier and American patriots that Noah realizes everything is not as it appears, and he must lean on his relationships to discover who he truly is.

Set using the American Revolution, Loyalty is a coming of age story.  When we first Noah, he's a young 13 year old trying to cope with his father's death.  He's naive and determined to do anything he can to make his father proud.  Throughout the two year span of this novel, we see Noah grow and as his mother challenges, think for himself.  This is the story of a young man who must navigate what he sees and hears, along with what he knows about his friend a young Black freeman.  Where do Noah's loyalties lie in a volital time in history?

I read this book with my 10 and 14 year olds.  We shared this one as a family read aloud and I was glad I didn't just hand it off to either of them.  The challenging thing about Loyalty is that it mirrors real life.  Characters are complex.  Situations are complex.  And the reader is often left with a feeling of standing on shaky ground.  Historical figures are examined from multiple angles, both in relation to politics, loyalties, and stance on slavery.  It's often times hard to discern good guys from bad guys.

I would recommend this book with a few caveat... read it with your children... discuss it with your children... talk about the complexities of human nature.  This was a tough read at times because it really was difficult to discern where Noah's loyalties should lie.  Also be aware that there are a handful of very graphic scenes.  The opening where Noah's father is killed is particularly difficult to read and I censored it as we read aloud.  I would definitely not categorize this as a middle grade book.  At best, this book is geared toward the high school years, but again with discussion and guidance by parents.  Loyalty is a unique look at the American Revolution, but not without its challenges.   

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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