Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

This is the story of Cora, a slave on the Randall Plantation in Georgia.  Her story crosses with many - her grandmother, stolen from Africa; her mother, the one who successfully escaped the plantation; Ridgeway, the infamous slave catcher; Caesar, the man who convinces Cora to run away with him; and the station agents and engineers of the Underground Road.  Cora's story is filled with brutality, cruelty, fear and hope.

I really didn't know much about what was in this book.  I know that there was instant buzz thanks to Oprah putting this on her book club list and bumping up it's publication date.  I knew that the hold list at the library instantly skyrocketed.  And I knew that this story of escaping slavery involved a literal underground railroad - as in like a major subway that crossed state lines bringing fugitives to the safe(r) North.

I did know enough to expect graphic brutality depicted in these scenes, as this is of course about slavery.  And Whitehead brings it unflinchingly.  I'll admit that some of it was hard to read, emotionally speaking, but I'm glad I did.  I was dialed into Cora's plight from the beginning.  The narrative is always third person, but changes the character of focus from section to section.  Sometimes the sections move around on the timeline a little too, which could have been confusing but really just made me feel a deeper connection to the characters.

This is an important book, one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

*****
The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead
Doubleday, 2016
306 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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2 comments:

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Yeah, this was a good one and I’m glad to see it get all of the accolades this year that it has. That being said, I preferred Homegoing, which covered some of the same ground that Whitehead does, but with a longer look at history, and I thought it was far the better book of the two.

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

really? Well then, I'll have to read that one too! Thank you!

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