Title: Annie Henry and the Secret MissionAnnie Henry and the Secret Mission
Author: Susan Olasky
Pages: 121
Reading Level: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★★

Annie Henry? Any relation to Patrick Henry?

The Story.

Annie loves being her father’s daughter. Many people fear his lightning quick thoughts and fiery tongue. But she knows his soft side – she feels the love in his embrace and the pride in his voice when he speaks to her. She wishes she could see him more often – and more importantly, help him with his cause! And then the opportunity presents itself in a unique way…

Discussion.

I was a little bit disappointed in this book. The reason I was disappointed was because, frankly, it engaged in a bit of false advertising. The title of the book is Annie Henry and the Secret Mission. The back cover describes the story as one in which Annie engages in the cause for freedom. So I expected the story to focus around Annie’s involvement in the patriot cause.

The book is 121 pages long. Annie’s “secret mission” is conceived on page 117. It is not a carefully thought out plot. It’s a spur-of-the-moment, oh-this-might-help-things stab in the dark. It’s not really heroic, and it feels as though the author just tacked it on to the end of the story to fulfill the promise of her title. The whole ending felt contrived.

The relationships are interesting in Annie Henry and the Secret Mission. Annie is a strong-minded girl. She occasionally uses this strong mindedness to work herself into scrapes which, had she taken the time to think, she would not have fallen into.

Annie’s mother lives in the bottom part of the house, because she is going insane. Annie only sees her once in the whole story, and that visit is a source of agony for her. It causes her to question how such a horrible thing could have happened to her beautiful, lively mother. Her question is answered empathetically and biblically by a friend of her mother’s who becomes a mother figure to Annie.

Because Mrs. Henry is unhinged, the majority of the household managing falls on Annie’s oldest sister, Patsy. Because she is having to adjust to these stressful demands, Patsy often responds in irritation to Annie’s shenanigans. It is clear that they have an affection for one another, but there is still that tension.

The story is explicitly Christian in themes. People pray to, reference, and thank God. Also, the Scriptures are mentioned and quoted. In one scene, Annie expresses anger towards her father because he keeps slaves even though he thinks that slavery is wrong.

Conclusion. Not as sarcasm-laced as most children’s historical novels, but also more focused on the personal rather than the factual nature of the Henry’s role in the American War for Independence.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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