I admire the Rankin family and their stand against slavery. I appreciate the risks that they took and the hardships they endured to be a part of the Underground Railroad. I even learned some interesting facts about why so-called Free states could still be dangerous places for runaway slaves, the reasons why the Underground Railroad led to Canada. But, I was really glad this was a short book. The storytelling was lacking; the characters (even though based on real people in many cases) were underdeveloped, and with the exception of Sherwood who had a limited back story, the slaves had no story of their own. Reed was writing fiction, so I wonder why she didn’t attempt to give at least some of the slaves a story. She made them bit players in their own struggle. Granted, the book was about the Rankins, but their roles and their struggles existed only because of the runaway slaves that they were aiding along the way. And except for when they were fighting against slavery, the Rankins were not very interesting. For example, the courtship between Lowry and Amanda lacked romance. Indeed, they were seldom even together through most of the book. Though there were indeed some tragic moments and some terrible atrocities committed, most of the book was boring. In her notes the author wrote that she had not written the history of the Rankin family, but the story of them. Unfortunately, she simply is not a good storyteller and the book suffered for it. The book is intended for a teen audience which is even worse. If I was bored by the lack of drama and romance, I know a teen would be. So the best I can say about this book is that it is okay. Maybe the sequel is better.
View all my reviews (Review copy provided by Kregel Publications for blog tour)