This is a powerful story written through the eyes of a twelve-year-old slave girl called Sarny. She describes her life on the plantation where the slaves suffered under the cruel ownership of their master, Waller. Sarny relates how she came to meet Nightjohn, a new field hand with a thirst for knowledge and freedom. He risks everything to teach Sarny and the others to read so that they will have a chance of freedom and will be able to record the cruelty they have endured. The book exposes some of the horrors of slavery in America's 1950's. It is written in the colloquial and uneducated style of Sarny, allowing the reader to really share her experience with her. I found it an incredibly powerful and moving book. Although some of the content is shocking, it is dealt with sensitively and the positive ending leaves the reader with a glimmer of hope. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone. It certainly changed me and made me aware of both the vulnerability and strength of the human spirit.
This is simply outstanding and perhaps one of the best books written. It is told from an uneducated child's perspective so it is very simple to read. This makes it ideal for children. There is a lot in this small book for adults too and, although the style is simple, the content is deep. There is a wealth of imagery, ambiguity and Christ-type parallels. The shocking scenes are made even more disturbing due to the child's voice. This wonderful book will appeal to all ages and it is its simplicity which makes it such a powerful piece of literature which should be read by all as a reminder of man's inhumanity to man.