A Matter of Conscience {Living Book Review}


Title: A Matter of Conscience
Mary Hosmar
Word Alive Press

Age Range: Children (9+)
Time Period: 1837
Location: Upper Canada

“Fifteen-year-old Jamie MacPhearson is confused. Everyone seems to want change but can’t agree as to how that change should come about. William Lyon Mackenzie is calling the people of Upper Canada to arm themselves and break free of the British rule, and Jamie’s friends and neighbours are all for joining Mackenzie and his army.

His father is dead set against violence of any sort and has tried to pass that along to his son.

Will Jamie follow his father’s wishes and stay home or will he go along with popular opinion and join the rebels?”

To be fair, I never really understood the rebellion of 1837. This is the first book I read that made me realize it was essentially Canada’s version of the American war of Independence! I’m not sure why it never really clued in, but it has now!

This story takes place just as the rebellion is about to break out. It shows the conflict that each member of communities struggled with and how decisions can affect relationships between friends and families.

The main character of this book is Jamie, a 15-year-old young man who is struggling to understand what his personal feelings are about rebellion and how he wants to be involved. There’s influences all around him – his Dad is staunchly against fighting, his best friend and neighbours are all for taking a stand. He doesn’t really know what side he agrees with.

In order to explain the tensions and politics of the era, this author uses a lot of dialogue between characters. I personally find political stuff mind-boringly numb so some of it was hard for me to follow, but she did a good job of breaking down the situation into small chunks. Meetings and gatherings presented a great opportunity to expand on the dialogue and continue to showcase the growing tension between loyalists and reformists.

One side I had not even considered were the viewpoints of the American loyalists who had come to Canada when their country went to war with Britain – here they are again, faced with the reality of a potential war.

This book is a good introduction to the rebellion of 1837 and helps show the viewpoints of the common person – not just the leadership.

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