Through the novel April Morning, Howard Fast tells the story of the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War. The novel is narrated through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Adam Cooper. This is a story not just about the horrors of war but also about a young boy coming of age in the midst of the colonists' battle for independence. In other words, readers experience the maturing of a teenage boy as the country around him also grows up and demands its right to be free.
This young adult novel takes place in twenty-seven very critical hours, when the characters of this story realize that all their dreams of independence from the British are about to begin. But they soon learn that those dreams come with at a high price and not all of the colonists had considered the cost. Most were not trained soldiers. Many of them had hoped that they could win their freedom through diplomacy and arbitration. Young Adam Cooper had not even considered that far. He just wished his stern father would respect him more and would show him an ounce of affection. But events were rapidly unfolding around him. In the middle of the night, Adam was awakened by the quick pounding of horse hooves on the ground. A messenger had brought news that British troops were on the road to Lexington, his hometown. Without thinking too deeply about the consequences of his actions, Adam grabs his birding rifle, one that shoots only small pellets rather than bullets. Before he fully grasps the details of his situation, he sees his father shot dead and finds himself running for his life.
The author was a prolific writer, and his best books are based on historical facts. Fast enjoyed taking major events in American history and retelling them through the point of view of ordinary citizens. In this way, readers can more easily relate to the fears and concerns, the joys and accomplishments of the common folks rather than reading only about the generals and politicians who often determined the actions of wars from a distance. In April Morning, readers feel the sweat running down Adam's back and the pain in his heart at the loss of his father as well as the loss of his own childhood.