Author: Colson Whitehead
Let’s just put it out there – slavery is never an easy topic to read about. It just ends up making me angry and results in me giving white people the side eye. With Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad you’re confronted with the realities of slavery through many different angles. From life on the plantation to life on the run and the lengths slave owners would go to get their property (runaway slaves) back.
The author creates an actual railroad working to help slaves make their way to freedom. I love this idea because it allows you to imagine more fully the networks, connections and dangers that were present while working with the actual underground railroad.
At the heart of the story is Cora, a runaway slave who escapes the plantation. She’s not alone though, she’s with another runaway, Caesar and their master is not one to give up on finding the two. He enlists notorious slave catcher, Ridgeway to get them back. Your heart will be pumping and breaking simultaneously, your stomach will be in knots as you follow them through all of the obstacles they encounter.
Once Cora and Caesar make it to a city that holds some sense of freedom, we encounter other newly freed characters but there’s still that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that it won’t last. You feel their anxieties throughout their journey.
And just when Cora and Caesar think they can breath easier, it all gets turned upside down.
Poignant is one word I’d use to describe this book for the emotions it evoked in me – hope, sadness, fear. I found myself fully invested in Cora and Caesar hoping they would find the freedom they were so desperately seeking. While the story itself is fiction, the circumstances it describes are very real.
I encourage everyone to grab a copy of this book.
If you’ve already read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and whether it touched you the same way it touched me.