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For so long as I’ve been an avid reader (and I cannot remember a time when I was not), I’ve believed that there is something to be learned from most any read. There are truths about personal relationships that may give us insight into the motivations of those in our own lives, and there are new understandings of the world around us that may help us to make our own way through it. On occasion, when I read, I even glean interesting historical nuggets that I might put to later use. So it was with Grog Wars, by Anne Sweasy-Kulju.
In Grog Wars, readers follow Burke Kaufmann, a German Brew Master, forced into an arranged marriage to Lily (who, much to his surprise, he comes to love). But Burke’s father has more plans for him: a trip to the western United States at the height of the gold rush days. Burke sets off, meeting the colorful Aussie, Queensy Gray, along the way. When the two finally arrive in Oregon, Burke sends for Lily. Perhaps the most interesting historical details set out in this adventure, for me, came while following Lily on her travels to the New World by way of Panama. Thereafter, I enjoyed learning a bit about “shanghaiing” as that “art” was practiced in Portland, Oregon, known at the time as the “Shanghai capital.”
In a story I would classify as appropriate for the more mature YA (as well as “adult”) audience, Anne Sweazy-Kulju takes readers, in the Literary Classics award-winning Grog Wars , on an historical adventure. It is one sure to leave them with details of the art of brewing, around-the-world traveling in the mid-1800s, and the history of the "shanghai" practice--any of which could come in handy the next time a Trivia question on one of those subjects happens their way.