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  • Colson Whitehead

The underground railroad-review

The underground railroad is a book which I heard about a long time ago and wondered whether to read, I forgot about it until this summer as it has been everywhere in book shops so I thought I would give it a go, it is an adult fiction but I thought i would read it and see what I thought of it and if it was a suitable book for teens.

The underground railroad is based on a slave's life named Cora, and her escape from her slave plantation in Georgia. She has always been a slave but her mother escaped when she was very young so she grew up on the slave plantation alone, and she was very lonely. One day someone comes up to her and asks if she will escape the plantation with him, at first she is very stubborn that no is the answer, but soon she realises she has to escape the true horror of the slave plantation. The other reason she is suddenly peursaded is that he mentions the underground railroad, a way they can get from place to place, sufficiently, and secretly. Soon, they go off into their escape, although not quite sure I would call it that.

The book take you through the different and unknown places that the underground railroad takes the slaves, and the horrors and events that comes with it. At each place in America they go to, they have to be different people, act differently, hide or neglect their old lives. But, the slave catches follow them and find them in their hiding places and they are battling for freedom and on the run constantly, wondering what it would feel like to be free.

It was quite a shocking and devastating book with parts which you would rather not, but it is important, to read. It is a book which literally pulled all of my heart strings and it was also completely interesting and real.

It was a great book to not only read out of pleasure, but it was also so intellectual and you learnt so much from it. A lot of the time, the narrator was just talking about different peoples lives before the moment on which Cora met them. You learn how different slaves were treated so cruel because of the colour of their skin, and you learn about the white slave catchers or masters, and what their life was like when growing up, and what lead them to feel and act this way.

Sometimes I think for young teenagers it could be a book which you could give up as at times you had to push yourself to keep reading, to get the action, but after you finished reading you realise how interesting all the information is and how it makes the book what it is and it teaches you the true life of slaves in America at that time.

What made the book so interesting was the different characters involved in the book and learning about their past and their future, even if they thought they didn't have one. So many characters were involved and they had a different role and a different goal in the book. The book achieved greatness as it was interesting, gripping and very important.

The character of Cora really developed as the book went on, at first I didn't know much about her but you learnt more because you see how she handles different situations and you watch her become more determined the longer the escape goes on, and the longer the slave catchers are searching for her. Both Cora and the reader didn't know whether to trust different characters, white or black.

The novel was written so well as it really felt like someone was telling you a story. It was in 3rd person and some chapters started talking about someone you hadn't met yet, but as the chapter went on, you realised the connections to Cora. This made it really interesting as I was constantly intrigued. Some of the vocabulary used outlined the fact the book was for older readers, but although I didn't know some words, its easy to understand what is going on and it improved my vocabulary.

It is such an epic read which truly tells you what the slave experience was really like, for all American citizens. It taught me how racism was coped with in different parts in America, some trying to cover the fact it still existed, and others advertising and practicing it constantly. I also didn't know about the underground railroad before I read this book so it taught me this secret and key route which led slaves to their freedom if they were brave enough to try and get it. (The underground railroad wasn't a real thing, it is a metaphor for the network that helped the slaves escape, however, in this novel, it is made in to a literal thing)

Overall, it was a book with was so interesting and although it wasn't a YA book, I think older teenagers would enjoy it. I will be recommending it to everyone I know as after reading the book, I now know it is important to understand this side of American history and see how it affects life today, and the brutality of it is important to know and learn about. You get to know so many different characters, you learn about so many lives therefore it deepens your understanding of the history. I would recommend it to people age 14/15+

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