Sally is powerfully drawn to her wealthy, Tory best friend, Kitty, but the rapidly evolving situation in colonial Boston has put their families on opposite sides of the emerging struggle.
Sally’s father is a shoemaker; his standard of living contrasts sharply with that of their merchant neighbors, the Lawtons. When Sally visits there, she can let her imagination run, inventing a new life for herself that doesn’t include a harsh stepmother and endless chores. But sometimes Sally doesn’t understand that she unwittingly carries secrets that are too easily revealed. After her cousin is caught during a Sons of Liberty assault on Lawton’s warehouse and imprisoned in the British fort in the harbor, she and Kitty’s brother launch an improbable, but nonetheless suspenseful, late-night rescue attempt. Portraying the months leading up to the Boston Tea Party, this effort provides an enlightening glimpse of the conflicts that surrounded average people in an extraordinary time. The tale is related from Sally’s third-person point of view, and while her character is adequately developed—although never plumbed to its fullest depth—others receive insufficient attention to be well-rounded. At times, the historical exposition feels heavy-handed, designed more to instruct than to advance the plot.
In sum, the story conveys a flavor of an interesting period, but it never quite achieves the taste of grit on the tongue that the best Revolutionary War–era fiction offers. (Historical fiction. 10-13)