Forgotten Fiction: April Morning

Savannah Young, Staff Writer

Do you ever get in the mood to read that one book that’s been collecting dust on your bookshelf for as long as you can remember? I started making my way through my books early in the year, picking ones that were new from Christmas and one that I got when I was around nine or ten.

April Morning, long forgotten, remains a classic in my heart. It not only tells the story of The Battle of Lexington, but of a boy coming to a startling realization about who he is and who he strives to be. (Credit: Savannah Young)

However, I didn’t even glance over one that I had gotten in 2019 from a social studies teacher. It didn’t even cross my mind to read it. It was, for me, just a nice, old memory collecting pounds of dust each and every day it sat on the wooden shelves.

That is, until one March day, when I, after a year and a half, finished it in less than 24 hours.

The book? Howard Fast’s April Morning.

As always, if you enjoy this week’s “Forgotten Fiction”, be sure to check back after Spring Break for my review of the live action Lady and The Tramp, a part of my “Forgotten Films” series, airing on the Apr. 12—featuring exclusive photos from the locations of the film.

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Spoiler-free Review

See the source image
Back in 1988, Hallmark brought April Morning to the screen in it’s Hall of Fame presentation. Filmed in Quebec, it featured celebrities such as Chad Lowe, Meredith Salenger, and Tommy Lee Jones. (Credit: Hallmark)

Hey guys, welcome back to Forgotten Fiction; where I revisit books often lost or unheard of. This week’s pick was April Morning, published in 1961 and written by Howard Fast. The novel details the battle of Lexington through the point-of-view of fifteen-year-old Adam Cooper.

While the book is only 202 pages long, it’s a long read. I made it through about thirty pages one night and finished it within a few hours the next day, which surprised me, as it is relatively short and a pocket-sized book in general.

Overall, the novel featured loveable characters, such as Granny and Levi, a well-rounded plot, and the unrivaled character development of Adam Cooper, the main protagonist.

While it may not be everyone’s “cup of tea”, it was an amazing read that made you feel as if you were right alongside the Cooper’s and, terrifyingly enough—in the middle of the battle of Lexington.

This book earned a 9 from me. Minus a point because I got a bit bored at certain points.

 

—————WARNING: YOU HAVE REACHED SPOILER TERRITORY—————

Spoiler Review

Where do I even start with April Morning? This novel will pull at your heartstrings, make you laugh, and make you want to break down weeping.

The beginning of the book was a nice setup, as we’re introduced to the protagonist, Adam Cooper, and his day-to day life with his family, which consists of his father (Moses), mother (Sarah), younger brother (Levi), and “Granny.” We’re also introduced to his love interest and friend, Ruth Simmons, his second cousin once removed.

Adam Cooper (Chad Lowe) and Ruth Simmons (Meredith Salenger) are two of the most beloved characters in the novel. (Credit: Hallmark)

It’s only after this point and a few quarrels that he’s thrust into a bloody battle, where, just after feeling loved by his father, Moses dies and leaves Adam with the responsibility of being the “man” of the house. Adam, who’s spent the whole book saying that he’s no longer a boy, but a “man,” finally realizes that he hadn’t, until his father’s death, experienced the heartache that makes someone a “man” or an adult.

We see him evolve and accept the fact that he hasn’t had to struggle throughout his life, and that he doesn’t have to struggle now. After meeting with Soloman Chandler, who gently tells him that he needs to cry and let go of his pain in order to move on, we see him take charge, get back up, and fight for what’s right.

By the end of the book, we see Adam transform. He truly does symbolize what a “man” is supposed to be, and we see him mourn his father, support his mother and Granny, all the while promising to be a father to Levi, who he spent the early parts of the book quarrelling with (typical sibling rivalry).

All in all, this book deserves a solid 9 out of 10. It’s truly become one of my favorites, and I love how relatable all the characters in it are. It’s got romance, action, tragedy, and comedy all rolled into one, while also expressing the importance of familial bonds, as well as friendships.

I highly recommend that you read this book. Especially if you’re into books relating to human rights, non-violence, and coming-of-age stories.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll pick it up, skim through it and get bored with it, and then come back one day and realize how much power and relatability this book has.

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Post-book thoughts

Favorite Character: For me, it’s a three-way tie between Adam, Levi, and Granny Cooper. They each have their own little quirks that I can’t help but love. Adam, being the main character who has amazing character development was an easy favorite character of mine. But Levi was precious at times, and perfectly fit the “little sibling” role, while still having a soft side. As for Granny Cooper, read the book and I’m sure this fiery, sassy, quick-witted woman will come to be one of your favorites, too.

Character I think could have been improved: I’d have to go with Ruth Simmons on this one. She was told to be capable of taking care of herself, which, while noted several times, was overshadowed by everyone worrying about her. I wish we got to see more of her fiery self. Still, a great character.

Favorite relationship: The relationship between Adam and Granny may be my favorite relationship between any characters in any book. I love how Granny’s willing to let him argue and pick at her, all the while throwing her own “comebacks” at him. She’s tough, but she’s got a soft spot for him, as shown when she snaps at her son, Moses (Adam’s father), when he’s coming down too hard on Adam. The book starts with them (after a few pages) and ends with them, allowing us to go full circle with the pair.

Favorite scene: My favorite scene occurred when Adam and Soloman Chandler were talking. It was the moment when he really felt his father’s death, allowing himself to cry and feel his pain rather than sob, hold it in, and cry even more. It’s the moment when they decide to take charge and meet up with the others to overtake the redcoats.

Book 2?: Unfortunately, as this book was written in 1961, Howard Fast has since passed away (in 2003). So, it’s unlikely that there’ll be a second book. However, both his son and granddaughter are writers, so it’s always a possibility.