Summer is heating up and it’s the perfect time to enjoy lazy days, backyard BBQ’s and spectacular fireworks. If you’re feeling particularly patriotic, check out one of these revolutionary reads to celebrate Independence Day.

Book of Ages
The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
By Jill Lepore

In 1712, Jane was born into a large bustling family in Boston of 12 children. Jane was the favorite and closest confidante, then student, of her brother, Ben Franklin. (Generally, higher learning wasn’t available to women at this time, but Ben taught little Jane well.) As the years passed, this dedicated brother-sister duo were the last of their clan and spent the better part of their long lives sharing correspondence, friendship and loyalty. Ben, perhaps one of the most remarkable Americans since the birth of our nation, had, in Jane, his one link to family and his past. He exchanged ideas, writings and philosophies with his sister at a time when women were on the outskirts of education and politics. Author Jill Lepore brings to life their private world and presents a carefully studied glimpse of the American War of Independence. Ben Franklin transformed not only our nation’s politics but the alphabet, written word, printing press, magazines, newspapers and libraries. The massive changes that took place for education were a revolution all its own.  

You Never Forget Your First
By Alexis Coe

Carved in the history books as the father of his country, General George Washington played a critical role during the Revolutionary War, Constitutional Convention and for two terms as the first president of the United States. Most people don’t know that he was raised by a struggling single mother, his teeth weren’t wooden, and he lost more battles than he won. While sharing an array of shocking and remarkable facts about George Washington, this author inserts humor and wit to help us visualize George, the man. A tall and handsome fellow, faithful to his mother Mary, he started off as a surveyor and received his military training during the French and Indian War. He miraculously survived smallpox, malaria (six times!), diphtheria, tuberculosis, dysentery and pneumonia, living a full life until the ripe old age of 67. A leader, survivor and our president, this brazen biography is not your everyday cup of tea but an alternative view of his life. Controversial it may be — but as George himself never really said, “I cannot tell a lie …” — but I liked it!

America’s Daughter
By Celeste De Blasis

Addie Valencourt and her twin brother have never left each other’s side for their entire lives. Thick as thieves, they got into all sorts of mischief together. In 1773, as war is brewing in Boston, they sneak out to witness the Boston Tea Party and quickly realize things will never be the same again. Adrian cannot resist joining the rebels to fight the British, while the women painfully step aside, feeling helpless. Addie’s English-born, Loyalist father has raised and educated his smart independent children to think for themselves. Although he loves them dearly, he could never separate himself from the Crown. When her brothers and (secret) childhood crush Silas meet up to aid General Washington, there is no turning back for these determined brave souls. From the wide acre plantations of Virginia to the crowded streets of New York and Boston, America’s dramatic fight for independence is filled with epic battles and revolutionary romance that light up the summer sky.

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Karen Newfield is first and foremost a reader, she has reviewed hundreds of books on her blog www.readingandeating.com. And, more recently, this new Keys resident has also begun writing.