Cora and fellow slave Caesar flee their cotton plantation in Georgia, hanging on to the hope and knowledge that there are brave souls who will risk their own lives to get them to freedom. It is not just an underground railway of routes and safe houses but a literal subterranean bricks and mortar network moving people away from the abhorrent realities of slavery in the antebellum South. Cora's journey north is harrowing as she experiences, state by state, inventive solutions to the 'negro problem'.
Referencing today's political and social attitudes, and with its vignettes of alternate history, this is a powerful, genre-bending story of America and its past. [Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Award Winner.]
We found this a very confronting read and many didn't finish as it was a chilling story.
Some really enjoyed it, while others found it confronting.
Mixed reactions. Some found the different points of view on the journey confusing and disjointed, and felt the slavery story had been more compelling in say, 'Roots'. Others found it moving and liked the mix of history, story telling and magical realism. Some of the writing was very beautiful and compelling.
It wouldn't be quite accurate to say that we 'enjoyed' this book as it was a gruelling read. Some group members thought that the detours into fantasy - especially the depiction of a physical railroad - complicated the story unnecessarily and that the writing style was a little overblown. All agreed, however, that it was a profound insight into the cruelty of slavery. This was a timely read, coinciding with revelations about police brutality suffered by African Americans today.
This book had a mixed reception, some thought it poignant while others thought it too brutal to finish. Other words used were gruesome and cruel but we agreed it was thought provoking. It painted a very grim and disturbing picture of America back then, while the consequences of these events are still visible today. A very sad commentary on America.
Overall our group enjoyed this book. A couple couldn't get into it but after the discussion, were going to try again. We thought it was a very relevant time to get it.
A grim but gripping read. Showed us the brutal realities of the slave trade - it made us wonder how on earth there could ever be peace in the USA, and how today's environment almost harks back to those times, and we haven't made much progress. The fantastical imagining of a physical underground railway freedom network was a bit much for some.
Our group were mixed over this book. It was a snap shot into the life of an American slave in all its horror. Many of us felt we did not engage with the characters thoroughly as they had not been fleshed out well enough for us to get a sense of them. The end was left hanging too, which frustrated us after getting to that point. Not an enjoyable read but fascinating and horrifying in equal parts.
Beautifully written, excellent book. Many of our group found it too harrowing to read in parts.
A mixed reception from our group for this book. A few found it difficult to engage with Cora on her journey, and others enjoyed it.
A brutal read, but enjoyed by all.
Some didn't want to read it, and those that did felt it was well-written but grim. Most learnt something they had not previously known. It created lively discussion.
The highest scoring book so far this year. Fascinating history - a realisation of how challenging racism can be.