Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication: 8/2/16 by Doubleday
Pages: 306 Pages
Format: Hardback
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
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Goodreads Summary
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven - but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

My Thoughts
I had to power through this book to get it back to the library on time, even then it was a day late. However, that late fee was well worth it. It's always important to remember the atrocities of the past and this book does it extremely well. I loved how it was an alternative history where the underground railroad was a real thing. Even though it was fictionalized for this story, it felt like it was so real. I was worried that it would feel too fantastical but it was executed perfectly.

This is a story that is quite far from my regular wheelhouse and I am very happy that I picked it up. I do feel like I have heard similar stories to this, but they are all still important to read. I liked how you got to see different parts of the country and what was going on in those areas. But at the same time, it was harder to connect with other characters from that area because you only got a short amount of time with them. I highly recommend this book.

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