The Underground Railroad (#30/50)

So I mentioned in my Sag Harbor review how I was on a waitlist for this book at the library because it’s Oprah’s latest book pick and thus very popular. Well…it became available! In less than a month! They must have a ton of copies because I was expecting to wait a looong time.

Title – The Underground Railroad

Author – Colson Whitehead

Page count – 306

This book – as you can probably guess from the title – tells a story about the Underground Railroad. But it re-imagines the narrative as if the network for freeing slaves was an actual railroad that ran underground. Our main character’s name is Cora, and (without giving away her various destinations…no spoilers, I promise 🙂 ) this book tells her story about escaping the slave plantation on which she was born and the people she meets along the way.

The structure of this book was similar to Whitehead’s Sag Harbor: the same characters feature throughout the book, but each chapter is like its own mini story, a glimpse into different aspects of Cora’s present and past, sometimes from others’ points of view.

I would definitely like to read this book again. I was so invested in learning what happened to Cora that I didn’t pay enough attention to her as a character. It would be nice to read it again, knowing what’s going to happen, so I can get a better sense of her personality.

There are two little quotes from this book that jumped out at me:

(Caesar is the slave with whom Cora escaped the Randall plantation)

“Cora and Caesar grew more casual about referring to Randall in public as the months passed. Much of what they said could apply to any former slave who overheard them. A plantation was a plantation; one might think one’s misfortunes distinct, but the true horror lay in their universality.”

“Cora didn’t know what optimistic meant. She asked the other girls that night if they were familiar with the word. None of them had heard it before. She decided that it meant trying.”


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