MILES' SONG by Alice McGill

MILES' SONG

Age Range: 9 - 13

KIRKUS REVIEW

Professional storyteller McGill (Molly Bannaky, 1999) has written a first novel that is enjoyable and compelling, though it shows some seams. Miles is a young slave being trained as a servant in the great house, but when he is caught looking at a book, he is sent to the breaking grounds. There he meets Elijah, who teaches him to read and write, and to set his mind towards freedom. He learns how to use field talk as a mask to show the breakers and the masters the slave they want to see, and then returns to the plantation. There he awaits word from Elijah to start the journey that he will embark upon toward freedom. McGill's narrative moves smoothly and lyrically, with the sweeping tones of an oral story. Unfortunately, the characters, while convincing, are generally one-dimensional, and historical details sometimes seem forced. For instance, Miles, though violently startled the first time he hears a steam train, boards his first train without notice. These and other slight inconsistencies mar the cohesiveness of the novel; yet it is still a good and well-told story that will have wide appeal and may educate young readers about aspects of slavery, like hammer rings and the breaking grounds. This is promising work. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-395-97938-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2000




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