The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

                Cora had never planned on running. But after the beating she received on behave of Terrance Randall, she knew the time had come. Only weeks had passed since Ceasar had asked her to go with him. Now she was ready. The train sat on the tracks underground. She had no idea whose hands had dug these tunnels. Cora only knew that they needed to get away from Georgia. Ridgeway had hunted Cora’s mother, Mabel, who ran when Cora was a young girl. He was never able to find her and Cora was his next big target.
                I’m not sure what I expected when I first picked up this novel. There was so much hype regarding the story and so much praise lauded on that I was scared I would be disappointed. Needless to say that within minutes of starting this novel I was hooked. Whitehead begins this story with one woman’s journey across an ocean to slavery and it’s endearing and heartbreaking and honest. Cora’s story follows directly after and within a few pages you become drawn to her character, her struggle and the struggle of plantation life, the life of a slave. All of these characters were well developed and felt true. The people Cora interacted with slave, freedmen, owner, conductor and slave catcher were believable. Whitehead took readers back in time with his world building. From the bodies lining the trees, to the sprawling plantation, to the Negro dormitories and train underground you feel transported. Transported to the days of slavery, to the time of running to be free, to safety.

                Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is worth a read. I really enjoyed Whitehead’s writing style and his ability to weave in and out of different narratives. There was never a sense of safety or a journey completed. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the next life changing event to happen and I was never disappointed no matter how much it broke my heart to read it. This was the reality and the tone of the novel breaming with fear, made me as a reader tense. Even when the story ends you know that there will be more to the characters, that there will still be fear, there will always be movement and that may never pass. I’m giving this novel 4 out of 5 stars. It keeps you invested throughout the story. Cora’s struggle becomes your struggle and the railroad keeps you moving. But the Underground Railroad overtime becomes more symbolic than anything. It’s a mystery to those looking for it and it’s a mystery to those who have to ride it to safety. 


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