I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Sixteen-year-old Jem struggles to maintain the status quo at home in Trenton, New Jersey, when the family men join the war for independence.
There are signs of rebellion in the Emerson household several years before the actual American Revolution hits in 1776! Brought up in a relatively liberal household, Jemima Emerson is quite a challenge for her tutor, John Reid, who is known as a Tory with strong ties to England. How could Jem's parents be friends with a man who opposes American freedom? Jem longs for freedom on every level, in the home and her homeland--and John represents the forces that restrict her.
Jem and her family soon find themselves fighting for freedom in whatever ways they can in the Revolutionary War. Before long, Jem discovers that there is much more to Mr. Reid than she ever imagined. Her feelings about him change when Jem realizes that John shares her love of freedom--and will risk his life to defend it. (source)
As a middle school student, I frequently read Ann Rinaldi's books and loved them, but this was my first experience with Time Enough for Drums, which is actually one of Rinaldi's first works. I read this book as the middle grade selection for my topic project and I do think that it worked well in terms of this project.
I really liked how intricately Rinaldi portrayed the politics of the American Revolution. She did a fantastic job of showing how divided communities - and families - could be. Most of Jemima (or Jem)'s family are Patriots, with the exception of her sister, maternal grandfather, and her tutor, Mr. Reid. Complicating matters is the fact that her father is a merchant, and most merchants were loyal to the Crown because it was better for their businesses. Rinaldi does an excellent job of showing how complicated loyalties could be and how they really could be detrimental to the harmony of a community.
However, as great as Rinaldi is at painting a picture of history, I didn't like this book as much as I've liked some of her other works. It may be because I'm ten years older than the intended audience. However, I was frustrated by Jem's attitude - she can be quite bratty at times. I also didn't like how quickly her feelings toward her tutor change. She spends the first half of the book hating him and the second half of the book loving him and there's not much of a transition between point A to point B. I haven't read a Rinaldi book in quite some time, but I think that this is something that's improved in her later works.
While this book is enjoyable and I think pre-teen girls will appreciate the romance aspect of it, I do think that there are better YA novels out there about the American Revolution. It kind of kills me to say that because I remember loving Rinaldi as a teen, but I really don't think that this is the best. It's good, but it's just not the best.