If you're looking for some historical fiction for Black History month or about the Underground Railroad, North by Night: A Story of the Underground Railroad by Katherine Ayres is a decent read, but not without it's problems.
North by Night is definitely written for the female reader, as our heroine, Lucy Spencer spends a good bit of the novel worrying about boy troubles. She can't decide between her childhood friend Jonathan Clark, or the Quaker who helps her hide runaway slaves, Jeremiah Strong. She's been kissing both of them, and now she's in a quandary as to which one holds her heart.
She spends most of the novel at the Widow Mercer's house, helping her care for the pregnant Cass, a runaway who is too ill and too close to her time to continue on the railroad. Lucy has an eye-opening experience when she realizes that Cass is not married, that her children, including the one she's carries now are fathered by her white owner. That Cass was forced to "breed" with the Master.
Lucy abruptly leaves all of her girlish dilemmas behind at the end of the story, when *SPOILER ALERT* she takes Cass's newborn north to Canada as her own child. Lucy's willingness to throw away her reputation and all hope of seeing her family again is remarkable if not a little disappointing to this reader, who wanted to see her live "happily ever after."
There is a scene at the end where the white slave owner, suspecting that Lucy in not the real mother of the baby, suggests that if she would sleep with a colored man, she should sleep with him. He is truly vile, but Lucy escapes his clutches with pleading that it is too soon since she had given birth.
Lots of mature themes in this book would make me hesitant to recommend it to young readers. Mature 13 year-olds and up?
|I now know exactly one thing about Millard, and it's not good.|
I did appreciate learning about the historical impact of Millard Fillmore's signing of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1851. This one bill allowed Southern slave owners to come North and re-capture lost "property." The bill also stipulated that anyone caught aiding and abetting these fugitives could be fined up to $1,000 (about the price of the family farm) and imprisoned for six months.
Prior to this, any slave who reached a free state was free. Now, slaves had to escape the United States, all the way to Canada. This changed the Underground Railroad as well. States bordering the Great Lakes become more common stops, as one could be smuggled on a boat to freedom.
I've got lots of books from bloggers recently. I started Laura Pearl's Finding Grace yesterday and am totally enamored with the awkward but spunky heroine.
Sweet Catherine of Catholic Mom Apologia sent Jill a copy of I'm a Big Sister by Joanna Cole.
You guys. You should have seen the sweet smile come over her face as we discussed her upcoming "big sister-ness."
She does treat the book a little like a catalog. She has chosen the baby on the "I can keep the baby warm and cozy page." as the baby she would like.
Lastly, Kendra of Catholic All Year sent me TWO copies of her recently published A Little Book about Confession for Children. So keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming review and giveaway.