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April Morning by Howard Fast

April Morning

by Howard Fast

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In this coming of age story, fifteen year-old Adam Cooper has to grow up overnight. Adam lives in Lexington, MA and it’s April 18, 1775. It’s the eve of the Revolutionary War and the British Army is on the march to Concord to seize the munition stores of the colonists.

Having been warned of the impending arrival of the Redcoats, the town committeemen call all able-bodied men to town to make a stand. No one in Lexington believes that there will be a battle as they have 75 men, at most, vs 1,000+ Redcoats. They just want to show the British Army that they are not to be trifled with and that Lexington is their home and they will protect it. However, all those rational thoughts are thrown away, when the British open fire. From there, the reader follows Adam as he joins the rest of the men in harassing the British column as it marches from Concord back to Boston.

This story gives puts you in the thoughts of a young man who until this day had a quiet life where his biggest problems were trying not to disappoint his father and dealing with his annoying little brother. That all changes in an instant when the first shot rings out…

Very well-written, a quick and easy read but interesting as the reader learns of the initial hours of the Revolutionary War. I recommend this to anyone interested in the Revolutionary War or even simply as a coming of age story.

Rating: 3.75 stars ( )
  bhabeck | Jun 25, 2017 |
This story begins with a resentful young teen who has issues with his stern and strict father. I almost quit reading it because of the tone. That would have been a huge mistake. As the story went on, it covers the space of one day in history, it quickly became a wonderful story of the journey from boyhood to manhood. Since it takes place at the battles of Lexington and Concord, there is much reflecting on the reasons those men took up arms against the British and what that would mean for them. Interesting that the author does not allow one mentality to rule the day and the reasons, but touches on many individuals and why they are compelled to the battle and why they must continue it. All through the eyes of this young man whose vision slowly turns from within to the world and the people around him. It is a well told story. ( )
  MrsLee | Apr 20, 2013 |
Batlle of Lexington/Concord as seen through the eyes of a fifteen year old, Not bad ( )
  brone | May 13, 2012 |
Somehow we never read this in high school, so I was interested in the Netgalley offering for the new Open Road digital edition. It seems to be a nice edition, apart from a few odd typos ('"We'd never sleep a peaceful night again – not ever again, no V"'); the cover art is stark and attractive.

April Morning is the story of about thirty-six hours in the life of fifteen-year-old Adam Cooper, a farm boy in Massachusetts living a placid life with his domineering father, Moses, and his sweet mother, sharp grandmother, and typical-pain little brother. (His grandmother was terrific.) What is not really obvious from the text until a little ways in is that this isn't just 18th century Massachusetts – it is Lexington, as in Lexington and Concord, and the April morning is April 18-19, 1776.

By the end of the brief novel Adam's entire life has changed, and his future as well. It's easy to slip into the old habit of thinking about the men who fought the Revolution as … only that, the plucky militia, confounding the Redcoats with guerilla tactics. It's easy to forget about the fact that the war came on them with a force and suddenness they did not expect. Many knew it might come; the leadership in particular was a well-informed group. They didn't know how and exactly when. They didn't expect to see friends and neighbors and family cut down, or to see the entire course of their lives redirected. Or terminated. The tidy, uncomplicated path Adam has always seen for his life – probably marry within the village, perhaps to Ruth, eventually inherit the farm, care for his grandmother and parents until they die, raise a family of his own, take up a position on the Committee in his father's wake – is obliterated. By the end of the brief time covered by the book, it is all still possible – but not nearly as obvious, as safe and sure, as it has been all his life. His life, his future – the world has changed.

By the end of the story I was rather fond of Adam, who is engaging despite his teenaged-boy-ness. I've come across surprisingly little fiction centered on the Revolution (there's my beloved Sherwood Ring, and I need to read Johnny Tremaine again one day), and I'm glad of a story that illuminates a corner of a period of history I know less about than I'd like to. I had, for example, no idea that that was how the whole thing started. This account certainly differs from the general impression of the Minutemen, every one loaded for bear (literally) and more than willing to defend their homes with no discussion. The Committee was so very much a committee, a panel of men of all opinions who spoke much and accomplished, apparently, little; this is not the popular image of the clear-minded forefather…

The brutality of the battle – battles – was startling, as was the frankness about the various reactions. There are no real heroes here, not as the history books would like us to see them; in fact, Adam notes himself that some of the greatest heroism shown that morning was by the British soldiers who walked into Colonial gunfire – and kept walking.

My eyebrows went up at the casual discussion of investment into slave ships, often profitable enough to be worth bucking public opinion despite an obscene percentage of ships – or was it just cargo? - lost. It's another thing I've never thought much about, the 18th century attitude toward slavery.

I was also surprised by the opinions expressed of Sam Adams and John Hancock?. Here are these (to overuse the word) heroes of the Revolution, and the denizens of Lexington are not happy about a visit from these worthies. I knew shamefully little about Sam Adams, who, it appears, was seen as an atheist (Wikipedia lists him as Congregational) and a radical (true enough). They seem to both be considered stormcrows.

"They were here tonight."
"Sam Adams and John Hancock."
"Oh, no," Father said. "Now what in heaven's name were they doing here?"

I like this sort of detail – I love to see a little deeper or from a slightly different angle than usual.

The book is from Adam's first-person point of view, and the language is colloquial without, happily, being unreadably young or "farm-boy" – the local color is not blinding. For a short work, there is a lot of strong characterization here – I finished it feeling I knew several of the characters quite well, and had known them a long time, something far too many much longer books fail to achieve. The quote I added above about Adams and Hancock is a good example of the skill with which this was managed: succinct and expressive without needing the narrator stepping in to fill in the blanks. It grew on me, and continued the effect after I finished it. I've found that I knock off a star from some books in the course of working up a review. Here, if anything, I might add one. ( )
1 vote Stewartry | Mar 12, 2012 |
The setting is April 19, 1775 and the main character is a young boy, stretched under the demanding thumb of his father, one of the town selectmen. When news comes that the British are coming, the boy wants to participate, only to see his father shot. The book follows the boy as he grows up in a single day, working to defeat the British.

This is an excellent choice for a history or English class since the protagonist is a teenaged boy, and all the emotions of the day are wrapped throughout the story. The book is a little slow to start, and the vocabulary is higher level, but the story is definitely worth the effort. Teens can feel the frustration of the boy as he strives to be a man, then stumbles into terrorizing territory when the British begin shooting. I would recommend this for school, but for personal reading as well. Fast captured the astonishment and shock of the colonists expertly. Great reading.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com ( )
  Glenajo | Feb 4, 2012 |
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Since in one way or another a part of each of you is in this book, it is properly yours. Thereby, for Rachel, Jonathan, Barry, Judy, Norman, Jennifer, Melissa, and Timothy.
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When I turned back to the house, my father called after me and asked me did I figure that I was finished.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553273221, Mass Market Paperback)

When you read this novel about April 19, 1775, you will see the British redcoats marching in a solid column through your town. Your hands will be sweating and you will shake a little as you grip your musket because never have you shot with the aim of killing a man. But you will shoot, and shoot again and again while your shoulder aches from your musket's kick and the tight, disciplined red column bleeds and wavers and breaks and you begin to shout at the top of your lungs because you are there, at the birth of freedom—you're a veteran of the Battle of Lexington, and you've helped whip the King's best soldiers...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A short novel about the first days of the American Revolution as experienced by a 15-year-old boy. Adam Cooper has a little brother who annoys him and a father who fails to appreciate him. Adam dares to sign the muster roll of the Lexington militia. When you read this novel about April 19, 1775, you will see the British redcoats marching in a solid column through your town. Your hands will be sweating and you will shake a little as you grip your musket because never have you shot with the aim of killing a man. But you will shoot, and shoot again and again while your shoulder aches from your musket's kick and the tight, disciplined red column bleeds and wavers and breaks and you begin to shout at the top of your lungs because you are there, at the birth of freedom -- you're a veteran of the Battle of Lexington, and you've helped whip the King's best soldiers.… (more)

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