Do you like HISTORICAL FICTION?
Do you appreciate National Book Award Winners?
Did you ever read The Color of Water (and liked it)?
Do you appreciate wry humor and satire?
I recommend this book. Everyone in our club enjoyed it (though our discussion* was a bit boring comparatively.)
This is a fascinating rollicking-good time read that will make you laugh and learn a lot about an interesting event and personality in U.S. History: The Raid on Harpers Ferry by John Brown. You also get cameos of Harriet Tubman (vote for her to be on the $20 bill?) and Frederick Douglass.
I know of John Brown because of this raid but also because he was known for fighting for Kansas’ right to NOT have slaves in the border wars with Missouri before the Civil War. My club asked me if I studied John Brown in my Kansas schooling years but I can’t remember. How/why do I know of John Brown? Not sure.
I do think of a mural in the Kansas State House so maybe I saw it first on a tour? I really don’t remember if I did a school field trip to Topeka while in grade school, but I know I have seen this:
The narrator of the story is a very young black slave, possibly age ~10, that is “freed” by Brown in one of the Kansas raids and he stays with Brown because he really has no place else to go. The odd thing is, the Brown is confused at the beginning, thinking that our boy named Henry is actually a girl named Henrietta. So Henry keeps up the ruse for a variety of reasons. In fact, one of the themes explored in this, in addition to race and slavery, is identity. McBride is a brilliant author on many levels, in my opinion, and I will now read everything he writes. Or, I want to; he’s now on the list.
Do know, I am one of those that laughs when most inappropriate, I see the absurd in the sad situations to thus avoid the crying. So it’s not that I love laughing at serious subjects, but. I do, I guess. I think that is why I like satire. (when I get it!)
If you want something a little different, something historical (researching this, it seems the author was quite attune to many of the true facts while having a creative imagination for the rest of it.) READ this book!
Rating: Five slices of Buttered Apple Pie.
* Factoid that I didn’t know until book club: a few of the ladies (of a generation (or two) prior to mine) started to sing a song “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave” to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Apparently Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to the Battle Hymn after hearing the John Brown version. Our book club leader passed out paperwork of her research and had us sing a few verses! Too funny.