The Pox Party

The Pox Party

Book - 2006
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Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2006
ISBN: 9780763624026
Characteristics: 351 p. ; 24 cm
Call Number: Y ANDERSON, M

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Mar 22, 2020

I read this ages ago, I think when it first came out, but this reread as an adult I think revealed way more to me than I remembered. In some ways it reminds me a lot of Laurie Halse Anderson's <em>Chains</em>, a book that I adored when I read and which came out many years later; it shares a lot in the sense of being about an enslaved young person grappling with liberty during the American Revolution, and in depicting violence against enslaved people and the trauma of enslavement in subtle and nuanced ways. I would not say one is necessarily better than the other, though I remember being fairly confused by the beginning of this book as a kid, but that may have been from not being very good at reading.

I think one advantage of the book is it doesn't truck very heavily in nationalism or even in ideas of liberty (at least in this first book); it acknowledges that the "liberty" of the Revolution was a false idea/that there was a ruling class deeply invested in maintaining enslavement. We will see if that continues in the second book; I am definitely interested plot-wise in seeing how this shakes out, and what it looks like by the end!

WVMLStaffPicks Aug 28, 2014

Set during the Revolutionary War, a young African slave named Octavian is raised by a group of enigmatic, undeniably creepy scholars in an institution called the Novanglian College of Lucidity. Octavian is schooled in Latin, Greek and the classical arts and comes to view the odd peculiarities of his upbringing as normal—until he opens a forbidden door and discovers the real reason he is being housed at the College. At times disturbing, grotesque, bizarrely funny and written in rich prose, this examination of race and rebellion will challenge readers of all ages

Jul 12, 2014

I loved this book, even as I suffered when the main character was abused. The ending is a terrific plot twist that lifted me up, way up! I cannot wait to read the sequel. This is a book that all Americans need to read, in my opinion.
The Pox Party is a rich and deep story of many types of people and parts of our history that are almost NEVER exposed. I taught English for a very long time, and I recommend this book highly.
I am sorry it is filed under young adult fiction. This is an important book for adults of all backgrounds. It would be perhaps shocking to a middle school student but a mature young person would be greatly educated and enriched by reading The Pox Party.
I am a life-long voracious reader, with life-long exposure to many types of books, cultures and neighborhoods. I think this book is just splendid!! I think would be an excellent book for a high school class.

It IS puzzling at first (that's a GOOD thing) but the mysteries are revealed in a good plot line. Octavian's emotional history is consistent with current psychological understanding of abused persons.
Please tell your friends about it. They'll be glad you did.

ChristchurchLib Nov 05, 2013

"At the dawn of the Revolutionary War, young Octavian is raised in highly unusual circumstances at the Novanglian College of Lucidity. Though the scholars give him a first-rate education, they also monitor him closely… too closely. As he grows older, Octavian learns the horrifying truth of his situation, and that truth leads him to question his understanding of himself and the Revolution: if the Patriots can fight for their freedom, why can't he fight for his? With complex, historically accurate language, this book will appeal to readers who enjoy sophisticated, unflinching storytelling. If you like Octavian Nothing, you might also be interested in Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson." Teen Scene November 2013 newsletter

Mar 16, 2012

Sometimes I like to dive into a book without any foreknowledge of plot or context. Unfortunately, I began this book the same way and was lost and disinterested for the first 150 pages. I eventually figured out the writing is meant to emulate the speech and style of 18th century colonial America. This was a relief because I didn't understand why I was having so much trouble comprehending the language at first.

The story of Octavian is gutsy in it's style and delivery though perhaps too gutsy. It's difficult to really feel Octavian's struggles because he acts so distantly un-human too often. We learn the secret of his plight almost as he learns it, which causes us both to be confused. I literally thought Octavian's caretakers at the beginning were robots and I was reading some sort of steampunk novel.

The novel finds a better voice near the middle through to the end, but then the ending is vague. Perhaps this story is the setup for the next? Still, I don't have the interest or energy to find out.

Oct 20, 2011

Intriguing. Doesn't offer a concrete story line and I enjoyed the mystery, similar to life.

chiennoir Aug 11, 2009

A challenging read from the brilliant M.T. Anderson.


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Jul 12, 2014

acfrosie thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jul 26, 2011

Navy_Wren_3 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

chiennoir Aug 11, 2009

chiennoir thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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Jan 09, 2019

We were strangers, in that moment--as intimate as strangers--for strangers know more of us, and can judge of us more without reproach than ever those we love.


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