Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Mine Eyes Have Seen - Ann Rinaldi

Mine Eyes Have Seen by Ann Rinaldi
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on January 1, 1998
Published by Scholastic
Pages: 274
Read From: 1.19.12 - 1.20.12

For antislavery crusader John Brown, the summer of 1859 is the time to secretly gather his "provisional army" at the Kennedy Farm and prepare for an assault on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry. For Brown's fifteen-year-old daughter Annie, it is time to make amends with her difficult father and be with the young man she loves. 
The summer begins calmly. "Your main responsibility is constant watchfulness," Brown tells Annie. "I expect you to sit out there on the porch and be a lookout." But as the summer wanes, tensions grow. Annie's relations with her beloved become strained, and the hoped-for reconciliation with her father appears impossible. When Brown finally reveals his brash plan for the raid, many of his followers think it can never work. And a neighbor somehow guesses what is happening and tells Annie her true role at the farm is not lookout, but witness: "To remember and tell what went on here."


This story is everything we Readers come to expect of Rinaldi's writing: beautiful, rich, compelling. Like all of her stories, this one is deeply rooted in historical fact, with only the order of certain events changed up a bit, and the personal thoughts of the characters for the most part fictitious. The people and events surrounding John Brown are brought to vivid reality with Rinaldi's words; she breathes new life into long-dead people, helping the Reader to understand them in a way that few history books can do. Annie is a totally sympathetic heroine, and as a Reader, I could not help but feel really frustrated with John Brown, as we are supposed to. If you know anything about John Brown, then you'll know the end is tragic. It is made more so by the Author's beautiful, simple writing style, and I felt absolutely devastated for Annie. G--damn is used once, but there is no other content.

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