Sunday 20 September 2015

Carole's Sunday review: My brother Sam is dead - James and Christopher Collier

Author: James & Christopher Collier
Title: My Brother Sam is Dead
Genre: Historical Fiction & YA
Pages: 240
First Published: 1974
Where I Got It: My shelf (From a Book Fair when I was like 12)

All his life, Tim Meeker has looked up to his brother Sam. Sam's smart and brave -- and is now a part of the American Revolution. Not everyone in town wants to be a part of the rebellion. Most are supporters of the British -- including Tim and Sam's father.

With the war soon raging, Tim know he'll have to make a choice -- between the Revolutionaries and the Redcoats . . . and between his brother and his father.

It has been yeaaaaaaaaaaars this I've read this. I believe I got this book when I was young. At the time I was super into the American Revolution. This was one of my first full novels in regards to the war. It was a different viewpoint and I loved it. A young boy is stuck between his father's ideals of being loyal to the King and his older brother's ideals for freedom from tyranny. They both make great points and both are wrong in many aspects.

What I loved and do still love about this is that it shows the American soldiers in the true light: they are human and not really different from the British. It's not a spoiler, so I'll say it. Sam is arrested by the American army for stealing cows. They want to execute him even though the proof is right there in their faces that he is innocent. Poor Sam. But yes, its beautiful that the novel took the American army off their "hero" pedestal and showed the reader that they are not perfect and amazing. They are simply men who make mistakes and can be as brutal and heartless as the British soldiers.

This is labeled as a YA and it is. There are some spots where it becomes very, very adult-ish. I would recommend not having anyone under 10 read this due to those scenes and the couple of swear words that pop up here and there. My only real complaint is the dry spots throughout the book. There was a couple that made me bored. Ugh. Once they were over, I was hooked. 

I feel SO bad for the mom. She is caught in the cross fire between son and father. She loves both, but she can't really do anything. :/

The irony! The son, Sam, and the father succumb to SO much irony in this. Like Sam being killed for those who supported and fought with. Even when I was younger and just learning that literary device was like "holy cow! There is so much of that irony thing in there".

Ooooh, the ending was good. I loved the ending still. Especially the epilogue. Even though I was and am a huge fanatic of this war, I still wonder if there wasn't an easier and better way to gain independence from England. I'm sure there was, but it would have taken more time. No families would been torn apart and so many people's lives would have been spared. 

In the end, this was a nice re-read for me. I still really like this book. It was one of my first American Revolution novels that I read. Honestly, it helped keep my peek in the time period alive. There are a couple dry spots and a couple non-YA scenes, but it was still good. I highly recommend this for those that like the time period and for those that have kids that are 10+. If your kid has any interest in history or the American Revolution, have them read this. 

I shall stamp this with 4 stars.


  1. This looks like a great book for young people.

  2. This does sound good, and I like how realistic is sounds.

  3. It looks like we bloggers are caught in a wave of nostalgia and re-reading our first books, nowadays :)

  4. sounds interesting! Glad you enjoyed the re-read.

  5. I can't say I've ever heard of this book before. But this book being set during the American Revolution is quite intriguing.

    Thanks for sharing, Carole.

  6. I can't do rereads for it to be considered a reread. When my memory is jogged, the rest of the book is spoiled for me. It's good though that you enjoyed this like it's the first time :)

  7. I hadn't heard of this one, but I love Revolutionary War and the Colonial Period stories. The realistic aspects have appeal, too.

  8. It sounds really well done, it's a not a topic I've read about but I'm curious.

  9. Ooo sounds like an interesting story set during that time.

  10. I totally remember this book from the 4th grade. There was another one that I was forced to read around the same time that wasn't as good. lol

  11. I don't know why the American Revolution makes such a rich ground for novelists, but it does. I too love a story set against this particular backdrop :)

  12. I need to read this one again. It has been YEARS. And when I read it, I was drowning in force-fed patriotism, so I didn't like it. Now that I am older and I understand a lot more about history, I would love to read this as an adult. Thank you for the rec!



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