Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

One of my students recommended Copper Sun to me.  I had never heard of the book before, but I'm always game when a student cares enough about literature to actually engage with me on a topic not directly related to my class.  It was a National Book Award finalist, but I'd actually never heard of it before, so I guess I need to stop calling myself a legitimate reader. 

Anyway.

This book was amazing. It was hard to read at times, but it was very compelling and I kept turning the pages even though I sort of didn't want to know what horrors were lurking on the next page, but yet I had know. There was a blurb on the back cover about how this is a good book for "reluctant readers" and I think the "reluctant readers" refers to teens who don't love to read, but I think it spoke to me because I just read The Underground Railroad for book club and I wasn't super excited to dive into yet another sad book about slavery, but it was well worth it.

The book has major sections that switch between two characters, a device I don't always love, but I did think it was well done here. I'm not entirely sure that it was a necessary device in that I think just following one of those characters would have been fine, as well, but it was interesting to see the slave and indentured servant perspectives.

I thought that Draper's portrayal of Amari's emotions and thoughts and how she cycled between hopelessness and hopefulness was riveting. All the historical elements that were woven in - the day to day living of slaves, the transportation of slaves, the language used, and other small detaills - really demonstrated the inhumanity of slavery without beating us over the head with A Message.

In a "Would You Rather" moment, I asked my husband if he'd rather have been like Amari, our main character, who had a great life in Africa with a wonderful family and a handsome fiance before she was enslaved or like Teeny, a woman who was born into slavery with no history of a life with any sort of freedom.  I understand that no one got a choice, but they both sound like horrible outcomes to me. 

Anyway, go read it. It's great.

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