I had tried to read Whitehead’s novel about zombies at one point, but just couldn’t get into it. But The Underground Railroad was a very different story for me. Maybe no less horrifying, but much more compelling in the long run. Cora is the main character in his novel. She was born on the Randall plantation in Georgia. When another slave, Caesar, approaches her about making a run for it, she is not immediately sold on the idea. The slave owners are cruel and the stakes are high if they are caught. But circumstances change for the worse for Cora and she and Caesar run. They make it to an underground railroad stop, a literal railroad stop underneath the ground with a station agent who lives on top of it. The train takes them to South Carolina. The conductor tells them that they can stay or move along to the next station. Whitehead creates a city for runaway slaves where they are given rooms in dorms, found jobs that suit them and seems like an ideal life compared to the horrors of the plantation in Georgia. But after awhile, Cora starts to notice some things that are disturbing and before you know it, they are on the run again. Cora’s travels and her eventual capture by the truly despicable, Ridgeway, a slave catcher, make for a breathless read. I think this is one to read for the story and the what happens element and then again to savor the writing and nuances of the book. I think this is one people will be reading for years to come.
Reviewed by: Gina on April 4, 2017
Number of Pages: 306
Tags: Historical Fiction