Christopher Collier Kirkus Reviews - Essay

Kirkus Reviews

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In The Winter Hero, the American Revolution] is over, but in western Massachusetts there's new unrest: laws passed way off in Boston—where it seemed too costly to send representatives—are making the poor farmer poorer, and aggrandizing the rich. When hot-tempered Peter McColloch's oxen are taken to satisfy a debt, he hies himself to Daniel Shays—and the Colliers launch us into the story of Shays' dubiously-named "Rebellion," as seen by 14-year-old Justin Conkey…. There's precious little glory, insistent-volunteer Justin finds, as Shays' Regulators are outmaneuvered, outmanned, outgunned and, time after time, run away…. This is truly history talked out and walked out. Less effective is Justin's injection into the house of Peter's lordly creditor as servant and spy … and Justin's relations with everyone, including his worried but resolute sister, carry more intellectual than emotional conviction. Still, with Peter's fate hanging in the balance till the last—will he be executed or pardoned?—pages keep turning. And as a dramatized argument, the book is more than respectable. For, of course, the defeated rebels elect their own to the next legislature, with encouraging results; had they done so before, the whole uprising might have been avoided.

A review of "The Winter Hero," in Kirkus Reviews, Vol. XLVI, No. 21, November 1, 1978, p. 1192.