|My copy of Johnny Tremain/the mysterious note I found inside|
I've wanted to read this book for a long time, since I'd heard so many good things about it from several people, but it wasn't until recently that I finally got a chance to. I was browsing through a used bookstore (the kind that has books all over the place, in no real state of organization), when I came across an old, battered copy. I bought it at once, took it home, and read it straight through in three hours (I found an odd note inside - I couldn't figure it out at all; it'll have to remain a mystery). It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think. More on all that in a bit.
I watched the Disney adaption when I was younger, and I really liked it, so that combined with enthusiastic recommendations from friends pretty much ensured I would enjoy it. I've actually read it two times, and I liked it a lot better the second time around (not to say I didn't the first time). One of my favorite things about Johnny Tremain is the characters. There's Johnny, of course. The odd thing about me is that I never like heroes/heroines as much as the supporting characters, but I really did like Johnny. His story is pretty much the typical 'hero's journey' and it was amazing to see how much he'd changed by the end of the book. It was gradual, but when I finished the book and thought back to the beginning, I could see it right away.
The other characters: Cilla was great. She was my third favorite character and I really liked how her and Johnny's friendship was portrayed. They were great friends, even when it didn't look like it, and, after all, she was the only one Johnny trusted enough to show his silver cup to. As for my favorite character...well, I'm sure you can all guess who that is. Rab. I can't really explain why he was my favorite, but I think this little snippet sums it all up quite well...
"Anybody named Priscilla can marry anybody."
"No they can't. For instance, I couldn't marry Rab."
Johnny froze. From being mildly irritated, but interested, he was a little angry. "Nobody asked you to," he said shortly..."Rab wouldn't marry you. He's too...he's too..."
"Wonderful?" Cilla gave him one of her sweet, veiled glances out of the corner of her eye. "That's what you mean?"
It was exactly what Johnny had meant.
Let's see...what else can I talk about? Oh, yes, the historical setting. I love the American Revolutionary time period and reading Johnny Tremain confirmed that opinion. I learned a lot more about that time period just reading the book (sort of a subconscious thing, you know) and, on another note, Otis' speech in the attic was completely epic (and I mean that in the blow-you-away-with-the-amazingness-of-it way). I have a feeling I should quote it here, or at least some of it...
"Each shall give according to his abilities, and some-" he turned directly to Rab "-some will give their lives. All the years of their maturity. All the children they will never live to have. The serenity of old age. To die so young is more than merely dying; it is to lose so large a part of life...we give all we have, lives, property, safety, skills...we fight, we die, for a simple thing. Only that a man can stand up."
Talk about foreshadowing. Because, you see, Rab dies (oops - should I have put a spoiler alert in front of that? Oh, well, you basically know it from the above quote). And it's heartbreaking. Not in the 'oh no, this character died. Let's cry a little.' but in the way that makes a real impact on you. Because he died for what he believed in. He was only eighteen and he already had a set course for his life, and he wasn't afraid to see it through to the end. Excuse me whilst I go cry.
So that's my review of Johnny Tremain. One of my new favorite classic books and one that I'll probably re-read several times. It's funny, it's poignant, and at some parts, it's downright sad. But you'll love it anyway. I promise.
Have you ever read Johnny Tremain? Who's your favorite character?