My Brother Sam is Dead is a touching novel about a young boy, Tim, and his older brother, Sam. The Revolutionary War has just broken out and Sam is an adamant revolutionary, while the father is a strong loyalist. Tim is very close to his brother and is shocked when Sam runs away to join the Colonial Army. With his brother gone Tim must take on added responsibility around the house and family tavern. The war causes many hardships and on a trip to town for supplies Tim’s father is captured, being accused of being a spy. The father eventually dies on a prison ship leaving Tim and his mother to take care of the household. Sam comes back every now and then but eventually is mistaken for a thief and is tried and convicted by his own troops. Sam is executed despite Tim’s attempts at proving his innocence. Tim realizes that the cause his brother fought for was a disillusion and decides that family is more important than a blind charge at glory.
This novel is based in the American Revolution, a period that most students are familiar with. It is a great coming of age story because we see Tim’s growth throughout the entire book. We see how he loves and idealizes Sam at the beginning but slowly realize that maybe his older brother isn’t always on the right path. Over the course of the book Tim is also given more and more responsibility. First when his brother runs off, then when his father is captured, and then as times gradually get harder. This novel is an easy read because it is told by Tim with some added vocabulary from the time. War and seeking glory through it is a huge theme in the novel. Family and religion are also prevalent themes in the book.
Stephen and Katherine