Looking at the reviews on GoodReads of this 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner, also National Book Award Winner 2016, this would have to be the most divisive book I have read for a very long time. Numerous 1 stars, numerous 5 stars, and the whole range in between. I expect for  many this is a book they feel they should read, not just for its prize winning cred, but its subject matter - slavery. For me, it is way way better than one star, I could barely relate to the one star reviews! This is a great book, deserving of its prizes and accolades. Oh yes, it is full of the usual terror, degradation, abuse, violence, all of it horrible and awful.

But it is also incredibly empowering, the power and strength of the human spirit when things are not going at all well. The determination that the down trodden show to keep what little self respect they have, the love and protection they show each other. It almost implies that the black slave population actually has more freedom than the in-charge white population, brain washed and frightened into conforming with the economic power structure in place. The economy of the South would not have survived at all without slave labour. There were of course the brave few who more often than not paid the ultimate price for helping slaves on the run. So many parallels to the hiding of Jews in 1930s-40s Europe, the fictional Hunger Games. Universal themes.

In this novel, the author creates a real underground railroad - we all know there was an above ground network that moved runaways from the south to the north. But this is a real one! With stations, trains, carriages, wagons, conductors, and drivers. Alarming and terrifying and imaginative. Cora is the runaway slave, a teenager off a cotton plantation in Georgia. Her existence is typically brutal, lives lived in fear, squalor, hopelessness. One night she runs away with Caesar, another young slave, and so begins her hazardous, dangerous and determined journey on the underground railroad. I thought it a brilliant novel, I loved it. A well known story told in a slightly different way. 

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