I am a Sharon Draper fan. And while I can see the usefulness of this book, I don’t think it’s particularly good. There are some new elements. For example, the protagonists run south (not north) to escape. And there is a surprising moment with the birth of a baby. Everything else feels formulaic. The white characters are not all evil, though some, appropriately enough, are quite vicious (beware of the scene where a child is used as gator bait). The problem, though, is that none of the characters, white or black, major or minor, is particularly dynamic. And I don’t let Draper off the hook because this is young adult fiction. She’s done better elsewhere (see Out of My Mind). She seems more intent on her educational agenda (and its accuracy) than on crafting a good story.

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