Johnny Tremain is the story of a 14-year-old apprentice to a silversmith in colonial Boston in 1773. Johnny's hand is disfigured in an accident, so he can no longer work as a craftsman. When he seeks work elsewhere, he makes new friends and becomes involved with revolutionary politics.
The story tells of Johnny's transformation from an arrogant, vain, cruel teenager to a patriotic young man. The wealthy Lyte family disbelieves Johnny when he claims to be related to them when he is out of work. By the time they recognize that he does have a right to some of the Lyte property, this is no longer a priority for Johnny. His desire at the end of the book is to be able to fight for his country after his best friend, Rab, is killed at the Battle of Lexington.
Johnny's love interest is Priscilla Lapham, and their feelings for one another contribute to Johnny's transformation. At the end of the story, Johnny receives news that his disfigurement is not permanent and his hand can be fixed. The book was written by Esther Forbes in 1941 for children, and portrays the events leading up to the Revolutionary War, including the Boston Tea Party in 1773.