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Revolutionary: TAS's best summer reading choice yet


Revolutionary, a book one might describe as an American Revolution Mulan story, is arguably the best summer reading book TAS has ever chosen. A book of heartbreak, violence, identity, and war, readers are in for a realistic and thought-provoking experience. When Alex Meyers came to give a speech last month, he not only provided important lessons on gender identity and acceptance, he also shared the power of storytelling. The power of his story has inspired us in many different ways.

Meyers’ writing style is mellow. His gracefully constructed prose and imagery projects artistic images in the reader’s head like a movie. He was able to skillfully fuse history and fiction. However, instead of an epic war film like The Patriot, the drama in Revolutionary is subtle yet powerful. Though Deborah encounters several important people in her one year of service and connects deeply with some, the books puts more emphasis on the internal dilemma and character development that comes out of her interactions. Due to the large portions of minimal dialogues, at times, the pacing did grow slow and a little dull.  

The book does well to be realistic. One important aspect of writing that Alex Meyers does well to avoid is wish-fulfillment. Although there is a high chance that he inserted a fictional romance in the book for those of us who need just a pinch of amour when we read, Meyer makes sure it is not over-the-top. James and Robert/Deborah’s relationship is built on mutual respect, acceptance and simple affections. That is why James’s death was so heart-breaking. He was a good, young man who died protecting his friend. The remorse that Deborah felt translated through the pages.

This choice of read by TAS proves relevant in today’s society with its challenging of identity and equality. Deborah’s character journey has to be the most prominent aspect of the book. Changing her name from Deborah to Robert then back to Deborah, she has grown as a woman/man/person every day in service. The freedom and pride she experiences as she is promoted into light infantry gives readers a sense of pride, too. “Now that I have tasted freedom and the world beyond, my stomach clamors for nothing else” (186). She even feels at home with the men, thus creating a gray area of a gender identity. Her relationship with James puts even more questions into the reader’s’ head. Was this just the author’s own input of his personal experience? Yet, before we could figure it out, in the end, she returns to being a woman.

Meyers also provokes the idea of the lack of women’s inequality in the 1700s. Deborah was confined in her town as woman, who, back then, were practically properties. Always having a master, she finally broke free as an independant woman when she turned eighteen. By also becoming a man, she takes huge leap of faith and felt extreme contentment for real liberties and agencies. “Never before did I believe I had the power to influence events, to form a life according to my desires, but now something more than a commonplace fate seems possible” (186). Though these issues were far more severe centuries ago, society today could use a book like this to question the injustice it experiences.

For those students who did not read this book (because let’s be honest, at least 40% of you did not read it), I implore you to pick it up. It is a short read and you will not be disappointed with the insightful and thought-provoking content which Alex Meyers beautifully coneys.


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