Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Day of Tears by Julius Lester
I listened to this book, which calls itself a "novel in dialogue," on CD, and it was amazing. I knew it was about a large slave auction, but I had no idea how it traced the characters lives' through time after the auction. It's based on the largest slave auction in history, in which one man sold about 450 slaves to pay off gambling debts. The slaves had been treated relatively well with this particular family, but were suddenly split apart and sold to the highest bidders. The main character you meet is Emma, a young slave who takes care of master Pierce Butler's two young daughters. She is cruelly sold away from her own parents and the home she has always known . She is bought by a woman from Kentucky, and along with her is sold a man named Joe whom she later marries. They later escape and it is her telling her granddaughter the story of their lives. Not just slaves are heard from in this book—you get accounts from the auctioneer, from master Pierce Butler, and his two daughters. You hear from angry slaves ready to run away and from slaves who have given up and accepted slavery. You also hear from white abolitionists. Many characters reflect back in later years on their actions and the events of the time which lets the reader know for sure how the characters ended up. At the conclusion of the book Julius Lester shares the historical facts of this slave auction. It's a moving story for kids or adults.