The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This book has a lot of critical acclaim. On the front cover, there is a big gold star that says “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017.” Hell, even the quote from Barack Obama says “Terrific.” I sometimes wonder about a book with the token quote from an uber famous person, but from listening to Colson Whitehead talking about his book, I knew it was one for me.
And, it really was a heartfelt story which deals with a very important subject. As you may know, the Underground Railroad was set up by abolitionists to bring slaves to the free states via a secret network of safe houses and transportation. Whitehead plays around with the traditional notion of the railroad, creating a quite literal “Underground Railroad” with secret stations and train drivers which was a really clever addition.
The novel is set during the 1800’s and begins on a slave plantation in Georgia. It follows Cora and Caesar who seek to escape using Whitehead’s version of the Railroad to gain their freedom.
The problem is knowing who to trust!
Needless to say, their bid for freedom is epic and is something that you can’t help but live with Cora, it really sucked me in! On her journey, she is hunted by slave catchers seeking the bounty set out by her “owner.” There is one notorious Catcher called Ridgeway who makes it his mission not to let Cora have her freedom.
Does he succeed? You’ll have to read it to find out I’m afraid…
That said, this novel really highlighted the people across America willing to risk their own lives to help the slaves obtain freedom.
It really is a real page-turner from start to finish and covers themes of self-discovery, family, identity, and the huge divide between two halves of America. A story with lots of ups and downs and twists and turns as Cora attempts to see the “Real America” via the Underground Railroad.
My only suggestion is to lose the one-word quote from Barack Obama on the cover, it really doesn’t need it.
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