Inside cover blurb:
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
A compulsively readable, plot-driven historical novel= unicorn! The author succeeded in depicting the horrors of slavery and the South’s persecution of slaves and free blacks alike. Should be pretty eye-opening for those who know little about this time in our nation’s history. Strongly recommend.
Plus: A historically plausible narrative (except for the literal trains). Clear and beautiful prose. A strong and believable female main character.
Minus: Still not sure I understand the whole train thing.
If you like this book, try:
The Book Thief by Mark Zusak