The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead


It’s a known fact that I have inhaled and loved all of Colson Whitehead’s novels. Whenever a new book of his is announced, I immediately put it on my “to-read” list with no questions asked.

The fascinating premise of the book that portrays the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad underground has been widely shared by this point and deserves all the praise it has received. Cora, an enslaved African on a plantation in Georgia, is seen as an outcast among her own people. When given the opportunity to escape, she doesn’t immediately jump at the chance, but the increasing cruelty that surrounds her soon forces her hand.

Writing in linear form with a flashback chapter every now and then, Whitehead gives us the truth and ugliness of slavery with a little fantasy mixed in. Arriving in South Carolina, Cora finds a freedom unexpected in a state so close to the horrors of Georgia. But the veneer soon starts to peel away, a slave catcher by the name of Ridgeway appears and the journey starts again.

Following Cora on her adventures was at times distressing and celebratory. The 4 1/2 pages of the next to the last chapter broke my heart. I think I read it twice before I could move on.


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