I’ve been resisting this book since I put the galley on my Kindle in August of 2016 (thanks Netgalley!). Books with this amount of hype are never my go-to read. I let it play out while everyone talks about it so I can see if it’s really something I want to invest in. Most times it’s not and I hear everything I need to know through conversation with others. I resisted when Oprah made it her book club choice but could not resist again when it won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
So I read it. I heard it was gruesome, and parts of it were. But then a friend asked me if it was worse than A Little Life and I chuckled to myself. Y’all, nothing will ever be worse than A Little Life. Nothing.
The Underground Railroad follows Cora, a slave in Georgia on the Randall plantation, as she makes her way off the plantation and navigates her life after leaving. She escapes. She does. But what does she escape? Not slavery, that’s for sure. The book alludes to this depressing quality multiple times. She moves from one set of chains to another despite her relocation to the North. I enjoyed this new perspective on the slave narrative. Another friend was saying that most slave books end after they’ve escaped and that’s it. Everything is great once you’re off the plantation and in the North, right? Definitely not true, and I appreciate that this novel continues that story for us to see. I also appreciated that the mystic / surreal quality of the railroad was not overdone (in the book the underground railroad is a literal railroad underground). I was thinking to myself after finishing it that if you didn’t finish school or paid zero attention in history you might actually think this is how the underground railroad worked. It’s a book that should definitely be read but not necessarily one I would tell you to buy / borrow immediately.
Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge 2017 : a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner
Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a book with a red spine