Rated Reads

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

by Rodman Philbrick

Rated: Mild

Life is not good for Homer P. Figg. His father was felled by a tree. His Dear Mother passed away, leaving Homer and his other brother, Harold, in the care of their uncle, Squint, who — to write an enormous understatement — doesn’t treat them well. Now Squint has illegally sold Harold to the Union Army, and it’s up to Homer to find him and bring him home.

These are his adventures. (Mostly true, anyway.)

And, boy, are they adventures.

From getting caught by a couple of slave hunters (in Maine, of all places), and rescued by a Quaker to becoming a part of a traveling circus, this is one rip-roaring adventure. Sure, it’s a Civil War book; there are the same old Civil War themes of slavery, fighting, traitors, and death. But it didn’t feel like a Civil War book; instead, it’s more of an adventure story with a Civil War backdrop. (Bonus: Joshua Chamberlin, my absolute favorite Civil War character, made an appearance!) But, more than the unusual take on the war, the best part of the book was Homer. He’s not only a winning character, he’s a wonderful narrator, even if he is (admittedly) a bit of a liar. It’s not a lying book like, say, Justine Larbalestier’s Liar is: the lying is more for comic effect, something which adds to the unique charm of Homer’s character. But it was that dash of comedy (and, yes, lying) that made the pages just fly by.

And it was Homer’s charm that completely won me over. The cadence of the sentences, the word choices all contribute to the whole charming tale. I’m not often a visual reader, but while reading this I had a definite picture of Homer. And I could totally wrap him up — spite, spit, dirt and all — and stick him in my pocket.

Which means that this one is a keeper.

Rated: Mild — some intense action moments, and abuse of children

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
  • by Rodman Philbrick
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: