Highlights from Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad

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Normally,I’m not a fan of historical fiction. I can watch a television show that’s centered around a certain time period, but I can’t stand reading it. Weird, I know. The furthest I went with it was reading Dear America and American Girl books as a child. However, I decided to give The Underground Railroad a chance because I read the description and thought it was interesting. Also, this book is one of Oprah’s Book Club picks and I knew it would gain popularity; so I wanted to see what the hype was about.

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The main character is Cora, and she starts off as a slave on the Randall plantation in Georgia. Cora goes through a lot of traumatic times while on the Randall plantation, including being raped and beaten. After that horrible experience, another slave named Caesar asks Cora about escaping with him on The Underground Railroad.

Cora and Caesar do escape, but they encounter hardships along the way. Cora goes to a lot of different places on her journey to escaping bondage, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana. I just wanted for Cora to have some happiness yet every time it seemed like things were looking up something bad happened. Whether it was her being beaten for protecting another slave back on the Randall plantation, discovering the truth behind what was going on in South Carolina, being discovered by the slave catchers in North Carolina and then the fire on the Valentine farm in Indiana.

Considering all of the trauma that Cora goes through, the ending was surprisingly hopeful and I was happy about that. One overarching mystery throughout the book was the outcome of Cora’s mother, Mabel, who escaped the Randall plantation leaving Cora behind when she was 10 years old. I was glad that the readers got to find out what happened to her.

One issue that I had with this book was the changing narrators, because it took a few pages before I figured out how they connected to Cora, or I found out much later in the book, which left me confused as to why I even bothered to read that part. Overall I enjoyed this book because it kept me interested.

Right now there’s a wait list for The Underground Railroad, but you can put yourself on it through the catalog.

Have you read The Underground Railroad? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!

~Kayla

Can’t wait for The Underground Railroad?

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Kayla works at Squirrel Hill as a Clerk, so when you come up to the customer services desk you might see her face! When she’s not at the library she enjoys reading, watching TV & listening to music. You might also find her at your local Starbucks, because she loves her Frappuccinos.