The Night I Freed John Brown

July 24, 2009
By Katie Ensinger BRONZE, New Martinsville, West Virginia
Katie Ensinger BRONZE, New Martinsville, West Virginia
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The Night I Freed John Brown by John Michael Cummings is a book about 13-year-old Josh Connors, a boy living in historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. A Harpers Ferry native, Cummings uses the town as a backdrop for this novel. He includes historical settings such as Jefferson's Rock, John Brown Wax Museum, St. Peter's Church, and John Brown's Fort to weave his story

Josh's life changes during the summer of his seventh grade year when the Richmonds move in next door. They have a son named Luke who is the same age as Josh. The Richmonds are much different than the Connors. For instance Luke's family is remodeling a beautiful Victorian home while Josh lives in a run-down former souvenir shop. In addition, Luke has been to Europe, reads Shakespere, and believes John Brown was a martyr. Even though his mother and father are divorced, Luke's father cares for his children very much.

On the other hand, Josh's father is a very angry and bitter man. Josh is forbidden to go to downtown Harpers Ferry, go to church, or discuss John Brown.

Much to his father's disapproval Josh and Luke visit downtown Harpers Ferry and perform in a play about John Brown. Josh even goes to confession with a priest his father hates. Much of Josh's father's anger is a result of the loss of his parents' house, which they lived in because they were caretakers of St. Peter's Catholic Church. The deserted house of Josh's grandparents is identical to Luke's newly restored home.

Josh's accidental firing of a BB into the John Brown Wax Museum front window sets off a series of spellbinding events which result in a surprising confession by Mr. Connors concerning secrets in his past.

With the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry this fall, this book, The Night I Freed John Brown, would be an excellent choice for young adult readers.

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This article has 33 comments.

nittany fan said...
on Sep. 7 2009 at 9:32 am
Excellent review! Your details made the story come alive! I hope we hear from more West Virginia reviewers.

teacherman said...
on Sep. 7 2009 at 9:07 am
Great job! It's nice to read a book from a WV author and reviewer!

stu said...
on Aug. 20 2009 at 1:16 am
Thanks for the review Katie! I have a young grandson who isn't crazy about reading........I think this book would make him sit still until it ended.

LittleJon said...
on Aug. 15 2009 at 6:13 pm
Great job. I enjoyed the writing.

Gracey said...
on Aug. 15 2009 at 5:47 pm
Hey "smileyface," You're making me frown. What are you talkin' about--"skipped around...confusing to read...more organization" ? I'm all for freedom of speech, but your comments are a little ornery. I've actually read the book, and it's no ordinary YA novel. I'd say it's as much an adult novel with young characters. Give it a read, and we'll be smileyfaces together.

cringle said...
on Aug. 15 2009 at 2:46 am
Sounds intreging. The character development is excellent and historical.

WVShopper said...
on Aug. 15 2009 at 2:26 am
Oh, hey, I met this author at the Bridgeport Mall recently. He was a real salesman with his book. I bought two! The review above is really good, too. It definitely matches up with my read of the novel, which was vivid from page one. I've been to Harpers Ferry, and this novel's like a photo album of the town, with ultra-realistic characters thrown in. Great to see a local writer on the big stage!!! Great review!

dla said...
on Aug. 11 2009 at 1:13 am
Great review. I believe this will be the next book on my nightstand. Love to read a good book before retiring for the night! Thanks to Katie's review for bringing my attention to this book!

kl said...
on Aug. 10 2009 at 5:16 pm
Great review Katie....I think I will buy this for my granddaughter to sounds very interesting.

smileyface said...
on Aug. 9 2009 at 1:28 am
It was ok but it skipped around a lot and was little confusing to read. I think parts of it were good but needs a little more organization. Several details were added that didn'tneed to be.

Abby said...
on Aug. 8 2009 at 11:52 pm
I found this review to be well written and intriguing. It certainly held my interest and painted a vivid image. Exxcellent work Katie and keep writing

Mary said...
on Aug. 8 2009 at 2:56 pm
Katie, Your review is wonderful. You gave just enough detail to make me want to read this book. Perhaps, I will read this book to my students so they can learn more about WV history. Best of luck to you! You are a fine writer!

on Aug. 7 2009 at 11:47 pm
A well-written, solid review--commendable!

sunny said...
on Aug. 7 2009 at 11:26 pm
I enjoyed Katies review and I would like to read the book myself.

2c said...
on Aug. 7 2009 at 11:24 pm
Great review, Katie! I would like to read this book myself. It is always good to hear about good books from WV writers. Looks like you'll be one some day.

taylor99 said...
on Aug. 7 2009 at 9:32 pm
i love this just by reading the info it sounds wonderful is it in stores yet

on Aug. 7 2009 at 8:23 pm
Nice review Katie. It makes me want to read the book (and I'm not a teenager). I hope you continue writing.

on Aug. 7 2009 at 7:17 pm
It was just allright for me. Just saying.....

nesci said...
on Aug. 7 2009 at 6:16 pm
This review was the perfect teaser to help decide if this would be a "must-read". Sounds like a super choice for young WV readers!

Tammy said...
on Aug. 7 2009 at 5:59 pm
What an excellent review, Katie! I certainly am going to read this book now that I have read your captivating "hook!"

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