Book: The Well (1995)
Author: Mildred D. Taylor
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: MG, Historical
This book in three words…
Hatred, Bullies, Water
Favourite Sentence from Page 11…
“I was kind of a quiet boy, and Hammer in his way was too, except he always spoke like a man, a man sure of himself. A man sure of himself even in front of white folks.”
My thoughts on this book…
Wow! Wow! Wow! This book… I went through a huge range of emotions while reading it. Mildred D. Taylor (author of the amazing Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) weaves such a tale that I hardly have words to describe it. And such characters! The likable narrator, David. The hot-headed Hammer. The wise parents, Mama and Papa. Simple Joe McCalister. Ma Rachel, who has is getting so old that she doesn’t quite seem to be all there.
I love how Taylor weaves the plot in and around the drought and the well on the Logan family’s property. She also works in little family stories, like the one about Ma Rachel and how she had her name stolen from her. My heart went out to this woman, once a slave, now an old lady. The story is so powerful my blood boiled against the Simms family.
And yet, I also like how Taylor tells us that things are complicated. Take Mama and Papa. They’re exact opposite of their hot-headed son, Hammer. They have so much wisdom. They dispel the hatred and distrust in the community by freely sharing the water from their well. Yes, even with such awful people like Old Man McCalister Simms and his two boys. David, the narrator, can hold his head high having Mama and Papa for his family. And yet, there’s a scene where Mama makes the decision to whip the boys so that Mr. Simms (a white man) will be satisfied. (Like I said, it’s a complicated scene.)
Warning: This book is quite raw in spots. Mildred D. Taylor doesn’t hold back in using the N-word in dialogue. And while I don’t enjoy reading language like this, I admire her for this historical accuracy. There is also a lot of whipping that happens, and again, it’s not pleasant to read about. But I think it’s important to the history behind this story. It’s good to know that this type of thing happened. We need to know history so we don’t repeat it, folks! We need more people in the world like David Logan’s parents. And we also need brave (albeit hot-headed) people like Hammer who will stand up to injustice. And definitely, we need people like young David Logan (who is based on Mildred Taylor’s own father).
This post is part of a challenge to celebrate middle-grade books. For more information, go to: https://bookcraic.blog/2020/12/03/mg-takes-on-thursday-25/
How to take part…
- Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
- Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
- Write three words to describe the book.
- Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.