Young Adult - Coming of Age
337 Pages
Reviewed on 02/16/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carmen Tenorio for Readers' Favorite

Bandy by Craig Hipkins is about Isaac Barker, an orphaned boy who enjoys a relationship with a talking pigeon named Bandy. Isaac and his younger brother were taken in by his great-uncle Raymond when the rest of their family was killed in a tragic fire. Uncle Raymond shortly sends Isaac to Virginia to fetch a sickly slave girl from a plantation and pay to release her from the notorious slave owner Will Jericho. Isaac soon learns about Jericho’s evil plot of illegally annexing his Uncle Raymond’s wealth and property and plotting his demise. Isaac and Joy need to go to Boston as soon as possible before something happens to them. Fleeing the slave colony was both a difficult task and an adventure for the two teens. With the help of kind-hearted people, they planned their escape as they became stowaways and wanted fugitives. Will Isaac be able to successfully return to Boston with Joy so she can reunite with her sister and seek treatment for her condition? More importantly, will he be able to introduce her to Bandy and show her his happy place and paradise called Bandy’s Pond before it’s too late?

Bandy by Craig Hipkins has excellent character and plot development, with a riveting and exciting storyline, and events that compel the reader to read on. The language used is quite simple and not overly complicated. The dialogues also accurately depict a character and tell the reader their age and also where he/or she comes from by their choice of words, diction, and accent. More deeply, the change of personality, behavior, and maturity in the characters can be striking, moving, and memorable. Dark themes of cruelty, greed, violence, murder, and racial prejudice are present. But it’s the positive values of courage, friendship, perseverance, and resilience that are more impactful. These guide the characters through all the difficulties they encounter and the decisions that they have to make. It also reinforces not only the bonds of their relationship but also their motivation and fierce resolve to overcome their obstacles and move toward a better place and life that they deserve. The book has the makings of enduring historical fiction with a fascinating narrative and sense of adventure that will appeal to both the young and old. It provides readers with insights and a glimpse of life during pre-Civil War America, especially the conflict between the pro-slave versus the abolitionists. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and those looking for engaging books for young adults and independent readers.