Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Remembering the Alamo

Title: Remembering the Alamo

Series: None

Year: 2014

Author: Alicia A. Willis

Summary: When Pastor Mark Siegler takes his youth group on a midsummer vacation to San Antonio, he anticipates teaching them about honor and sacrifice at the Alamo. But arrival at the historic landmark brings cutting disillusionment. A troubled teen is determined to make things difficult - and spread his embitterment to the rest of the group.

Mark has two choices: give up or try again. Midst his own discouragement, he decides to give them the story behind the legendary Alamo. And his perseverance results in the unforgettable.

The sweeping events of the Alamo comes to life through the eyes of an 1800's wheelwright named Silas Edwards. As his tale unfolds, his decision becomes a difficult one. Is defending the Alamo so important? Or are the principles behind opposing General Santa Anna worth sacrificing everything for?

Join Private Silas Edwards, David Crockett, William Travis, and Mark's youth group to discover the gripping events behind America's battlecry: "Remember the Alamo!"
(from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Mark Siegler
~ Silas Edwards
~ Wes

Review: In truth, this review should have be written months ago when Alicia first sent me a review copy of Remembering the Alamo when I won it in a giveaway. I've always been interested in Texas history and the Alamo in particular though, I confess, that I am numbered among the Disney-romanticized-version of fans. To read about the Alamo set in this light, the light that truly showed what happened there (albeit slightly fictionalized with its main character) was amazing. You can really tell that the author did her research, and did it well.

Mark is a young pastor taking a group of boys on a trip through San Antonio. Most of the boys are eager to see the famous Alamo and examine the collection of Bowie knives housed there, but not one realizes the truth of the courage, honor, and liberty behind what that old mission stands for. Mark loves the history behind it, and when opportunity presents itself, he shares the story of the Alamo like the boys have never heard it before. The first half of the book is mostly about Mark and the boys as they enjoy their trip. One of the boys, Dillian is a troubled youth, and Mark wonders how he might ever get through to him. It's about halfway in the novella that Mark sits his group down and tells them the story, at which point the POV switches to Silas Edwards, a fictionalized defender of the Alamo. The plot was easy to follow, yet gripping at the same time. 

Silas enjoys his life as a wheelwright. He's got his father, his sister, and an apprentice to keep him busy. It's not until his best friend, the Irishman Wes, starts talking about Texas and the Mexican dictator that Silas's thoughts go beyond the woods of Tennessee. Then Davy Crockett, the great legend, shows up looking for volunteers to defend Texas, and Wes encourages Silas to join alongside of him. It is only after much prayer that Silas follows the volunteers west under Crockett. His convictions bring the story to a personal level, where it's easy to see the defenders of the Alamo as real people who really lived, not just some glorified heroes portrayed in fiction. They were real. The Alamo is real. The battles and deaths really happened. 

In words, I don't think I could describe how much I loved this story. The themes were powerful, and the style brilliant. I almost felt that I was at the Alamo myself, brandishing a muzzleloader alongside Davy Crockett and Silas Edwards. I'm not particularly fond of when a writer takes a historical event and then twists it to meet their own purposes, yet this was completely straight-forward. Alicia didn't gloss over the gruesome facts, nor did she embellish where embellishment was not required. All I can say is "Well done." This story deserves all the five stars it can get.

Advisory: There are some descriptions of the battles fought at the Alamo, yet I didn't think it overly graphic. For the tone of the novella, I thought the author described it wonderfully. But for those who are more squeamish, this story does contain guns and blood and the like.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Remembering the Alamo on Amazon!

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