Welcome back to AZE readers!
This week I'll be discussing a novel written by Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead...
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave native to Georgia, abandoned by her mother to live the rest of her days in misery and suffering. When Caesar, a slave from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to flee. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, a city that seems safe on the surface- but is horrific in its core. To make matters worse: renowned slave catcher Ridgeway is moments from discovering their whereabouts. Forced to escape her new life, Cora travels, state by state, seeking true freedom.
I picked this read up at the recommendation of dozens of my peers. Unfortunately, this novel wasn't for me. I'm a fan of all things history, and because of that, I was disappointed with this book. While I enjoyed the story that Whitehead was trying to portray, I found flaws with the read.
To start off, I simply couldn't connect with the protagonist of the novel, Cora. Although Cora shares her experiences and perspectives throughout the book, the character is cold, distant, and reserved. As a reader, this made connecting with the character extremely difficult.
Another flaw I found was the structure and organization of the novel. While the storyline was compelling and there were moments in which I felt genuinely interested, the author jumps from Cora's perspective to that of other characters, many times without warning. Instead of introducing secondary characters through Cora's perspective and then revealing their stories, Whitehead introduces many characters without background or context. While this didn't make the story confusing per say, it definitely made it a bit messy.
Both of these elements resulted in making The Underground Railroad unpleasant for me. Nonetheless, I encourage all of you to recommend other novels that feature the topics discussed in this book. I've been very eager to read a GREAT historical fiction novel, and will continue to search for my favorite!