Book Review: A Different Kind Of Courage by Sarah Holman
Posted by Jason McIntire | Oct 06, 2014
Since I last posted, there has not been a lot of discernible progress on the writing front. In two months, I've barely added four thousand words to my work-in-progress. That doesn't seem like much, but then again, there have been similar time periods in which said work-in-progress shrank by this and larger amounts. The characters and plot have proven to be much more slippery than those in The Sparrow Found A House, which I drafted in about thirty days.
Many delays and distractions have attended the past summer, one being self-inflicted in the form of my new Amazon Kindle. I bought it with the idea of perusing some works I learned about on the Homeschool Authors blog, and have since spent way too much time so doing. Outstanding among these works is A Different Kind Of Courage by Sarah Holman, a period piece set in Revolution-era Boston.
I followed the writing of this book slightly on Sarah's blog, and could see that she was going all-out with research. This clearly paid off in the finished product, which feels most authentic and historically accurate. Her treatment of American Revolution politics and morality is also surprisingly balanced. The main character starts off as a Loyalist, and in general, the British get painted in a more sympathetic light than the Americans. Dr. Joseph Warren does wear something of a hero halo, but he is probably more deserving of it than any other founding father.
The first half of the story is fascinating, as William's character is developed. His relationship with a rebel servant girl is tastefully handled; at the most, he "enjoys holding her" during a dangerous moment, and at one point contemplates a kiss (but resists the temptation). There is also a really orginal plot element involving a Zorro-like character who helps both sides.
William's inner struggles form the core of the story. As a budding patriot with a very Loyalist family, he is repeatedly exhorted to be true to himself and seek God's approval alone. While there's a valid principle here, I thought its application was perhaps a bit wide of the mark. When William finally has the "moment of truth" with his father, that truth is mixed with equal parts of axe-grinding and sibling rivalry. I have some concern that readers might take this as license to defy earthly authorities, with no other justification than being true to oneself.
All that being said, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to adults and discerning teens. The freedom from excessive romance and violence was really refreshing. In fact, A Different Kind Of Courage is the first contemporary adult novel I would feel free to pass on without any selective editing. (No, you can't do that with Kindle anyway, and yes, we really do it with paper books. Correction tape is God's gift to conservative Christian readers, with sticky notes a close second.)
While I already knew many of the historical facts covered in this story, I enjoyed learning personal details and perspectives that aren't found in the history books. Combined with interesting characters and an imaginative plot, these made an entertaining story that was worth reading. I'll be watching for a possible sequel in the future, and also considering other works by Sarah Holman.
Disclosure: I know Sarah Holman online, and she has reviewed my work. I purchased A Different Kind Of Courage on Kindle without her knowledge, and she did not request this review.