Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Love Thy Neighbor: The Tory Diary of Prudence Emerson

Love Thy Neighbor: The Tory Diary of Prudence Emerson

Ann Turner
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 2003   ISBN: 978-0439153089

For most people the story of the revolutionary war in the United States is about the efforts of the American colonies to gain independence from England. It is also the story of the patriots who fought this battle. In this unique book we hear a new voice and a different story. Prudence, or Pru, Emerson is the daughter of a shop keeper in Green Marsh Massachusetts. It is 1774 and disgruntled colonists have dumped boxes of tea in Boston harbor in protest against what they consider to be unacceptable taxes.

The people in Green Marsh find themselves becoming divided. There are those who support the pro-independence "Patriots" and those who believe that they must continue to be loyal to King George, the "Tories." It is their belief that the king is appointed by God to watch over them, to protect them. To defy the king is to question the 'correct' order of things. The division in Pru's village causes great unhappiness and hardship. Pru's father is losing customers and his children can no longer attend the village school because of the antagonism of the teacher to Tories. Acts of violence are committed against Tories, including the Emerson family. Pru's best friend, Abigail, belongs to a Patriot family which shuns all Tories. For the first time since they were very little, Pru and Abigail are separated.

The story of Pru's family and their eventual removal from their village to Boston is both interesting and disturbing. We are reminded that there are always two sides to a story. In the classroom a teacher may suggest that the students write about or discuss another incident in world history not from the conventional point of view but from the point of view of  'the other side.' This is one of the "Dear America" books.