In this “searing work of historical fiction” (Booklist), Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Sharon M. Draper tells the epic story of a young girl torn from her African village, sold into slavery, and stripped of everything she has ever known—except hope.
Amari's life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and fortunate enough to live in a beautiful village, it never occurred to her that it could all be taken away in an instant. But that was what happened when her village was invaded by slave traders. Her family was brutally murdered as she was dragged away to a slave ship and sent to be sold in the Carolinas. There she was bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a "birthday present".
Now, survival is all Amari can dream about. As she struggles to hold on to her memories, she also begins to learn English and make friends with a white indentured servant named Molly. When an opportunity to escape presents itself, Amari and Molly seize it, fleeing South to the Spanish colony in Florida at Fort Mose. Along the way, their strength is tested like never before as they struggle against hunger, cold, wild animals, hurricanes, and people eager to turn them in for reward money. The hope of a new life is all that keeps them going, but Florida feels so far away and sometimes Amari wonders how far hopes and dreams can really take her.
Draper's (Forged by Fire) historical novel takes on an epic sweep as it chronicles the story of 15-year-old Amari, kidnapped from her African village in 1738 and sold into sexual slavery in South Carolina. The horrors of the kidnapping Amari's parents and little brother are murdered before her eyes and the Atlantic crossing unwind in exhaustive detail, but the material seems familiar. The story doesn't really take off until Amari reaches her new "home," a rice plantation run by a Snidely Whiplash clone, who presents her to his evil-to-the-core son as a birthday gift. Befriended by the wise cook, a white indentured girl named Polly and the beleaguered mistress of the household, Amari eventually and improbably finds a way to escape. Draper has obviously done her homework, but the narrative wears its research heavily. Every bad thing that befell an African slave either happens to or is witnessed by Amari (e.g., Africans eaten by sharks, children used as live alligator bait, an infant shot dead out of spite). Rape is constant. These lurid elements may appeal to reluctant readers who would normally shy away from historical fiction, but they unfortunately push the story to the brink of melodrama. The author also pulls her punches with a highly implausible happy ending. But after all that Amari has gone through, readers will likely find the conclusion a huge relief. Ages 14-up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Very Good Book!
I believe it was a little advanced for teens in eighth grade. Very realistic but mature content. It expressed very deep emotion and I love the ending. It shows the reality of life and how things go in real life.
I love the journey
I love the journey that amari and Polly went through it’s a really good book there’s one part that’s a little umm drastic but it’s good to teach kids about slavery
This book was amazing! It was sad but very mature and eye opening in regards to history.