“Answering Liberty’s Call” by Tracy Lawson

Uncovering the pivotal unsung roles women played in history is a trend that Tracy Lawson continues in Answering Liberty’s Call (Gray Lion Books 2022). In this captivating novel, Anna Stone, a young mother of three, sets out to carry medicine and warm clothing to her husband and brother garrisoned at Valley Forge. The result is a rip-roaring adventure full of intrigue, betrayals, and surprise twists—all based on the life of a real hero of the Revolutionary War who happens to be one of Lawson’s ancestors. Readers who like stories about trailblazing women like Hidden Figures and The Woman They Could Not Silence will love Answering Liberty’s Call.

A healer, Anna is used to traveling alone though only over short distances to help those in her community. Her marriage to a gentle Baptist minister, Benjamin Stone, is unusual for the Revolutionary Era. He encourages her to carry on with her healing work after they marry. She will heal bodies and he will heal souls.

The novel, set in Virginia and Pennsylvania, shifts back and forth in time to reveal Anna’s past. When her father dies with many debts owed, Anna, her brothers and mother are placed under the care of an uncle. To settle the debts, they are stripped of all belongings except the clothes on their backs. Ten-year-old Anna is indentured as a servant to a household of strangers for six years. The flashbacks show the challenges she faced in these early years. She encounters enemies and allies and is eventually freed from servitude. These sections also reveal a tender love story developing between Anna and Benjamin.

Yet the heart of the novel is the daring adventure Anna undertakes and the many challenges she faces on her journey that begins as a mission of mercy for her family and ends with the delivery of a letter to General Washington with the power to shape the outcome of the war. She doesn’t know who to trust along the way as there are Loyalists living amongst them as well as those who want to strip General Washington of his command. That Anna undertakes this journey while so soon after birthing a child and still producing breast milk makes her all the more heroic.

While most of the prose is straight-forward as befitting an adventure story, Lawson also treats readers to occasional lovely descriptions like this one: “She read the situation and wasted no time shooing the four of us children out to play on the far side of the hayfield, where the trill of cicadas near the drought-ravaged creek sawed on my nerves like a dull blade on brick.” This is the work of a talented writer using her skills to best advantage.

Excellent research underpins Anna’s tale. The health issues that plagued Washington’s army—the loss of more men to smallpox and dysentery than to enemy fire—plays an important role, as does the decision to inoculate soldiers. The story depicts conflicts within the Continental Congress and behind-the-scenes struggles for power among the various generals in the Continental Army. The persecution of Baptist preachers by the Anglican Church as depicted in the novel reminds us of why freedom of religion plays such an important role in our country’s founding documents.

Answering Liberty’s Call serves to pull another woman whose story was buried beneath those of men into the light. It is a worthy tale, expertly written, and deserves a wide audience.

Tracy Lawson

Revolutionary Anna, the first volume in the Liberty Belles series for young readers (2023) tells the story of Anna Stone’s daring ride to Valley Forge from a different angle, for kids. Lawson has also written four titles in a young adult dystopian series called The Resistance, and a nonfiction title Historic Mills of West Virginia. Lawson, who is married with one grown daughter, splits her time between Dallas, Texas and Columbus, Ohio.


Leave a Reply