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by Robert J. Favole

Age Range: 10 - 15

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-930826-00-1

A mysterious agency singles out two teens for a dangerous mission to the past. Kate, who is white, swims for the high-school team; Michael, who is African-American, is a skilled equestrian. The two best friends find themselves chosen by the CyberTimeSurfing Institute to go back to 1778 to warn General Lafayette of a British trap and to save the life of Michael’s distant ancestor, John Banks, who rode with Lafayette. Any time-travel novel necessarily rests on a contrivance, but this novel, Favole’s debut, is more contrived than most. The need for the mission is so poorly justified—some unnamed alteration to the present/future as we know it will occur if the kids do not succeed—that there is no tension to the narrative at all. The very arbitrariness of it all guarantees that Michael and Kate will succeed, each using his or her special skills to accomplish the mission. Once in the past, these two modern teens have very little difficulty navigating a radically different environment from the one they’ve come from, winning against all credibility the near-instant trust of the French and Continental troops and playing a key role in the Battle of Barren Hill. The novel appears to have been written to highlight the strategic accomplishments of General Lafayette and to honor the African-Americans who fought with the patriots; an author’s note details the life of the real John Banks and Lafayette’s career. Unfortunately, the author’s note is ultimately more interesting than this predictable, didactic effort. (Fiction. 10-15)