One of the latest juvenile historical fiction titles I have read is titled Good Fortune and which is written by Noni Carter.
New to the publishing world, Ms. Carter “was only a child when she first conceived of this story of a young girl’s journey from freedom to slavery and back to ultimate freedom…” (back jacket) Would that all first-time authors could pen something as engrossing and compelling as Good Fortune!
Written from the viewpoint of Ayanna Bahati, her African free self; and moving to being called Sarah, her slave self; and finally, to Anna (free in the North), this story details the daily happenings of a field hand on a Southern plantation. Sarah experiences horrible living conditions, appalling working conditions, beatings, and more until she meets John, an itinerant “preacher man” who begins to care for Sarah in a “womanly way”. The author keeps all situations in check, however, and only hints at things that Masta Jeffry might do to Sarah and the others.
Sarah, her brother Daniel and a friend take the big step: a leap forward in the freedom process one dark and stormy night and endure hardships that are almost unbelievable. They also find kindnesses in folk willing to help them on their way via the Underground Railroad to Ohio and eventual freedom. Their friend doesn’t make the entire trip, but Sarah and Daniel do, and are transplanted into an all Black community near Dayton, Ohio where they begin to make their way into a life previously unknown, or hardly remembered: that of freedom. They are able to work, save their money, buy things, marry, have children, get educated, etc. Part of the appeal of this story is that of female protagonist Sarah, who is about 12 years old when she begins her journey. Sarah teaches herself to read and write by covertly listening to the plantation owners’ children as they do their daily lessons. She capitalizes on her limited education, and eventually becomes a teacher for the community in which she lives in Ohio. Such determination! Such will! No wonder she is able to escape the bonds of slavery!
A must read for ‘tweens and older. This is an excellent glimpse into Southern plantation life and the life of the slaves that lived and worked there. I can see this book being awarded maybe a Newbery Medal, or a Coretta Scott King award (for new authors). Check it out today!