I was supposed to read this book for school, but I wasn’t sure I’d like it. I normally don’t read historical fiction and I’ve always found it kind of dull, so I didn’t have high expectations for My Brother Sam is Dead. Unfortunately, this book did not exceed my expectations.
First of all, there were the characters. My Brother Sam is Dead is told from the perspective of Tim, a ten-year-old kid who’s faced with the troubles and dangers of the Revolutionary War. Tim has an older brother named Sam. Sam is a Patriot, but that’s a problem in his family because his father’s a Loyalist. I feel like Tim wasn’t very well developed—he doesn’t do much in the story, and I think the book would have been more interesting if it had been told from Sam’s perspective. Tim just sits there when Sam and his father argue about taking sides in the war, and he doesn’t say ANYTHING.
He does do some interesting things in the book, but most of the time, he just talks about time passing and how he misses Sam. I mean, B-O-R-I-N-G. Tim didn’t make ANY effort to rescue his father when he went missing, either. I constantly rolled my eyes at him.
There were also many minor characters like Mr. Heron and Tom Warrups, who were interesting but appeared, like, ONCE in the book. I wish they’d gotten more of a spotlight. General Putnam was horrible, harsh, and rude, but in the “How much of this book is true?” section, the authors describe him as brave and loyal. Wait, what? The only character I actually liked was Sam, because his life as a soldier was pretty cool.
Then, there was the plot of the book. There were many side-plots going on (like, Mr. Heron asking Tim to deliver a letter, Tim’s father dying) but none of these plots actually mattered. In the end, Sam just abruptly...died. The ending was like a deflated balloon—there was so much buildup, so much excitement—and then all of a sudden, it just went POP! But the worst part was, the authors didn’t even show how Tim grieved and got over Sam’s death. They showed him FIFTY YEARS AFTER SAM DIED. Tim’s now sixty-four years old, has grandchildren, and is living a happy life. I HATE it when authors create boring, hollow happily ever after endings.
However, I enjoyed some things in the book. I liked reading about Mr. Heron—he was a really mysterious and fascinating character. I also enjoyed the interview with the authors, and the part where you could learn about games and toys from the Revolutionary War.
So, my overall opinion of My Brother Sam is Dead: It wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t very good, either. The characters and plot could definitely use some work. I don’t think I’d recommend this book.