The Revolutionary War forces a sheltered but determined boy to come of age.
The year is 1779; the Revolutionary War is underway. Sixteen-year-old Noah Daniels, frustrated by his crushed foot and patronized by strong-willed women, wants nothing more than to prove himself and honor his late father. He joins the militia as Benjamin Tusten's assistant in the bloody Battle of Minisink but finds himself wounded and befriending "Scar," a wounded Mohawk soldier allied with the British—but only after brutally beating the man. Noah's narration, weaving between flashbacks and his current predicament, evokes the disjointed terror of a nightmare, mocking his heroic fantasies. War, he learns, confuses everything, and Mann demonstrates that chaos throughout. The self-deprecating humor of Noah's relationships with women leavens the mood, yet the sympathy it fosters also intensifies such horrors as scalpings and a boy choking on his own blood. Noah, intuiting that the Mohawk are also fighting for their freedom, wonders, "Wasn't that the same thing I was fighting for?" The somber ending provides no easy answers. An epilogue gives background on the real Battle of Minisink—including a vague mention of a Colonial soldier "probably" buried by Indians, on whom this book is presumably based. An appendix gives brief biographies of the real soldiers who appear in the book.
A sobering characterization of not only a historical battle, but war itself. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-14)