Jake's first 4th of July happens in 1777, one year after the start of the Revolutionary War. He's with his buddies, swimming, joking, and having a good morning before having to go home to do chores. The war has started, yes, but it has no real impact on his life.
1778, little has changed. Jake's father decides on the 4th to enlist Jake in the militia, and Jake is angry at being forced. Things are changing, but even though the war has been going on for two years at this point, it means very little to Jake personally.
1779, all of that changes. The British attack New Haven, and Jake, who lives in East Haven, and his best friend Tim are in the middle of all the action. The Rebels run out of ammunition and have to retreat to a new post to keep fighting. Jake and Tim get separated from the rest of the militia but decide to protect Jake's father's ferry. They are captured and forced onto a prison ship.
1780 and 1781 find the boys completely different. Each 4th of July brings about new issues and torments. And all they think about is surviving to the next day.
A powerful novel. Each chapter is only about the 4th of July, but the narrator catches you up on what's happened in the past year. There is action and adventure here, but also brutal truths about war and about the Revolutionary War in particular. Very moving, and the author's notes at the end about the real people her characters were based on is appreciated.