Book: Journey to Freedom, 1838 (2020)
Author: Sherri Winston
Genre: Lower MG, Historical
Basic plot: This is the story of Eliza Harris from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She’s the slave that fought to get to freedom across the icy Ohio River to keep her young son from being sold into slavery.
Opening lines from the book …
Eliza Harris pressed her body against the house. Winter air chilled her skin. The conversation she overheard chilled her soul.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…
1) I love the author’s note that connects this story to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the novel that played a huge role is swaying public opinion over the horrors of slavery. Sherri Winston explains how Harriet Beecher Stowe used several stories to create Eliza Harris.
2) There’s quite a bit of excitement during the escape portion. It’s amazing what women (and men) like Eliza went through to make it to freedom.
3) I found it interesting how Eliza’s “mistress” (the lady of the house in which Eliza is a slave) is quite a sympathetic character; there’s a scene where Eliza tells her that her baby is to be sold. First, she can’t believe that her husband would ever sell Eliza’s baby.. Sometimes these characters are portrayed as heartless and cruel. But I’m glad Sherri Winston put some nuance into the slave owners instead of falling back on caricature and flat characterization. (Not that it makes it right to own slaves! But I think it’s important to show nuance.)
4) I love the cover. I didn’t know the connection to Uncle Tom’s Cabin when I picked this book up, but once I found that out the cover made complete sense!
THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…
1) (SPOILER) In the story, Eliza falls into the freezing river and is thoroughly soaked. I’m not sure how she made it after that. Freezing water tends to paralyze you, I think. Although, I’m not an expert in this. I wonder if that’s part of the real story. If it is, all I can say is, what an amazing woman! (End Spoiler)
This is definitely a book meant for the younger middle-grade crowd. I absolutely loved the history behind it. And I’ve always been a sucker for an Underground Railroad story. I find the bravery of those people to be inspiring!
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…