Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A Book Review: Abigail Adams (Witness to a Revolution)

       Hey! This week I'm thrilled to share with you another amazing book that you should definitely think about putting on your Christmas list. Abigail Adams herself has inspired me more and more as I've gotten to know about her life, and the author writes about her so well! This pick is definitely a keeper, and one to read if you want to feel inspired.

Title: Abigail Adams (Witness to a Revolution)

Author: Natalie S. Bober

Series: This is part of a series of biographies Bober has done about different historical figures, but as they're all about different people each can definitely be read as a standalone.

Targeted Age Range: 12-18

Synopsis: Abigail Adams is often referred to as the wife of one president and the mother of another. Rarely is she described as a woman in her own right. Although her primary focus and concerns were in her role as wife and mother, she lives in history because of her extraordinary letters to her family and to her friends. She was a witness to the gathering storm of the Revolutionary War. She saw the Battle of Bunker Hill from a hilltop near her home, and soldiers marching past her door frequently stopped for a drink of water. Because she was so close to the scene, she was able to give firsthand reports of the American Revolution to her husband and other leaders creating a new government, as she wrote about the times and the people who played vital roles in the birth of our nation.

Mingling the intimate with the momentous, she documented what it was like to live at a time when education was not available to young women, and when pregnancy and childbirth meant the fear of death. Colonial women were called upon to make life-and-death decisions for their children, to educate their daughters, and to run their farms when their husbands were away for months, or sometimes for years, at a time. Yet they had, at best, second-class legal and political status.

Abigail Adams's independent spirit, her sense of humor, and her remarkable intellect, as shown in her letters, open a wide window on a crucial period in our nation's history, and bring Abigail Adams and her time to life.

Language: None, although a few not-so-flattering descriptions of various historical figures.

Violence: Abigail's stillborn child is mentioned. A few cruder ways of dealing with illnesses and cancer are mentioned. As she lives longer, Abigail witnesses many of her dear friends and family die.

Romance/Sexual Stuff: Though not the entire focus of the story, a large part of the biography deals with Abigail and John Adams' relationship, especially during John's long absences from home. There are mentions of kissing, lovemaking, and sexual yearning. Abigail's daughter suffers a painful breakup, and later marries a man who does not adequately provide for her and her children.

A brief flirtation through letters between another man and Abigail is mentioned, which the author tries to sympathize with. However, Abigail is loyal enough to her husband to later stop the letter exchanges.

Spiritual Elements: The Adams' Calvinist upbringing and Puritan descent is mentioned. Praying and Biblical terms are mentioned. Abigail used nicknames adopted from the names of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

Magic: None

References: There are references to various historical figures and events in history.

Other Issues: Tensions between friends and family members are mentioned.

Where To Buy: The Hardest Peace is available on Amazon, eBay, Barnes & Noble, Abebooks, Book Depository, Alibris, Indigo, and Better World Books.

My Age Range: I think kids aged 13 and up would enjoy this book the most.

Read Aloud: I think this book would be better read alone. However, there is a ton of material in here that would be great to talk with others about.

My Opinion: I first picked up Abigail Adams (Witness to a Revolution) for school reading. Usually I tend to stay away from biographies, as I feel often they read like history books rather than an actual story that you can curl up with, feel for, and enjoy. However, reading this book was a pleasant surprise! (I think it helped that the aut-]hor often quoted and cited different letters that Abigail both sent and received during her life.)
    As we live in more modern times it can be hard to remember that people who were in the thick of historical events were human, too, and I think Natalie Bober does her job well in kicking back that false assumption. It's true that Abigail and her family members suffered from different things, and lived in different times, but there is something in all of them that connects with us. I especially found myself relating to Abigail's personal feelings, and admiring her inner strength as she battled loneliness, poverty, and so much more.
    I'd recommend this book for anyone looking for a new perspective on history, wishing for a good role model to learn about, or anyone who wants to find out more about the woman behind the name.

Discussion Questions:

-What qualities or traits did you admire in Abigail Adams? Why? How did she demonstrate these qualities in her life?

-If you chose one word to describe Abigail and John's relationship, what word would you choose? Why?

-Abigail struggles with a sense of loneliness or abandonment when John is gone for long periods of time. During one of these times, what advice would you give her?

-Abigail has been seen as one of the first champions of women's rights, but at the same time this reading paints a picture of her not totally embracing a feminist perspective. What is your opinion on her views of women's rights versus her views on being a housewife? Even if her idea of equal rights for women was not the same as the definition we use today, do you believe Abigail could be considered a strong female advocate?

-Abigail resided in England and France for a time. How did this change or at least revise her ideas about America?

-Abigail Adams' life is an incredible example of self-sacrifice. What are some examples of things she had to give up in order to serve her country? If you were in Abigail's place, do you think you would have given up the same or similar things?

    Thanks for checking out Abigail Adams with me! What about you? Have you read this book, or one like it? Whether or not you've read the book, what do you think about Abigail Adams?

    As always, I am open to review requests! Just make sure your idea is a part of all the types of books listed on my Review Policy page, and then ask away.

    I'd also love to hear about your Christmas festivities? Right now I'm hoping to spend time with my family and watch some more Christmassy movies to celebrate. What about you? Are you enjoying the holiday season right now? If so, how?

    Next week, tune in for a very special post!


  1. I've never read a book about Abigail Adams, but she does sound like a fascinating individual. :)

    1. Yes, she definitely is! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  2. I haven't heard of this series, but it sounds like a good one. I'm with you - I prefer learning about history through fiction. Still, sometimes it's good just to get the facts. I'll have to check out this series out.

    Happy TTT (on a Wednesday)!

  3. YAY!! ANOTHER AWESOME BOOK REVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!! How is it that I've never read just about ANY book you mention/review??? I've gotta get back to reading more. But, yeah, I don't normally like reading biographies, too, but this book sounds REALLY interesting!! I've not really got much on my Christmas agenda, just some time with family, a few Christmas movies, finish up on gifts, and some extra exciting things on my blog. I don't know a TON about Abigail Adams, but from what I do know, she sounds like an AWESOME, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE person!!! Can't wait for the next post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!