HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: True to the Last, or, My Boyhood’s Hero
Author: Evelyn Ward Everett-Green
Publisher: PrairieView Press, revised edition published in 2003
Related website: http://www.prairieviewpress.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 9-15
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Everett-Green, Evelyn Ward. True to the Last, or, My Boyhood’s Hero (originally published in 1891 by T. Nelson and Sons, London, England; revised edition published in 2003 by PrairieView Press, P. O. Box 88, Neche, ND 58265). Arnold is a lame, sickly boy of ten years old who doesn’t remember his father and who lives with his poor mother in a London, England, lodging house. When his mother dies, he goes to live with a childhood friend of hers, whom he calls Aunt Mary, at the Hazelmere Hall estate of Mary’s brother, Colonel Reginald Douglas. Mary also cares for her nephews, twelve-year-old Geoffrey and nine-year-old Ted, whose mother had also died, since her brother is in the service and must be gone a lot. Outgoing Geoffrey loves the outdoors while Tad is the quiet and studious one. Another young man, fourteen-year-old Arthur Heath, comes to stay with them too. He is the son of one of Col. Douglas’s friends who is going abroad and doesn’t want to take Arthur with him.
The four boys have a lot of adventures together, and Arnold gradually gains strength. However, Arthur begins to resent Geoffrey and to make fun of him because of his desire to be good, obey his father, keep the rules, and please God. In awe of the older boy, Arnold and Ted often join in Arthur’s mocking and jeering, although deep down they seem to know that it’s not right. Arthur even tries to get Geoffrey in trouble on occasion. But then Geoffrey is injured while helping to save animals from a fire in the barn, which it is later learned that Arthur and Ted accidentally had set, and starts to grow ill. How will Geoffrey handle his injuries? What will happen to him? And how will it affect the other boys? Evelyn Ward Everett-Green (1856-1932) was an English novelist who started her writing career with pious stories for children, then wrote historical fiction for older girls, and later produced adult romantic fiction. I have also seen this book published under the title True to Himself.
As a result of his illness and losses, Arnold is very bitter, but Aunt Mary strives to teach him about the Father in heaven who sees and cares for all. Geoffrey encourages both Arnold and Ted to trust in God as well. Also, in all his excursions in the fields and forests around his home, Geoffrey sees the hand of God in everything. But most of all, if you are looking for a fictional story to illustrate for children the dangers of peer pressure and the importance of standing up for right even if one has to stand alone, this book will serve the purpose. And if you can get through the end of the book without shedding copious tears, you have better self-control over your emotions than I do. I was sent a copy of the PrairieView Press edition to review, but the book is also available as part of the Rare Collector Series by Lamplighter Publishing (2010). Other books by Everett-Green include Tom Tempest’s Victory, her first published work (1880); A Gordon Highlander, one of her boys’ adventure stories (1901); and Called of Her Country, a historical novel about Joan of Arc (1903), later republished as A Heroine of France.