THIS STRANGE NEW FEELING by Julius Lester

THIS STRANGE NEW FEELING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The strange new feeling surges up in runaway slave Sally, in the first of these three stories, with her first taste of freedom. It comes at the end of the story, just after she has killed her master, Lindsay, to save her true love, Ras, who is escaping with her when the master catches up and attacks him. Ras, the real center of the story, first escapes when Jakes, a white worker from Maine, plants ideas in his head and Thomas McMahon, a neighboring, non-slave-owning white planter, agrees to smuggle him to New York with his tobacco crop. But Res is captured and returned when Jakes sees him in Maine and informs for money. Thereafter, Ras and McMahon help other slaves escape until Lindsay gets wise and Res and Sally flee. In the second story, a young slave girl turns down her nice master's proposition and is grateful when he sells her to a young black free man who loves and marries her. But when her husband is killed, leaving large debts, she must choose between going back to the master and being sold on the market. She chooses the dreaded latter course; for her, freedom must lie in a defiant spirit. The third story (all three are based on true accounts) tells the better-known tale of William and Ellen Craft, who escaped North with fair-skinned Ellen posing as a young white gentleman and William ""his"" slave. Lester tells of their narrow escapes on the way, of Ellen's growing unhappiness in Boston as William blossoms out and mixes with high-class white abolitionists, and of the further emergency under the Fugitive Slave Law when slavehunters come after the Crafts and Boston blacks and whites mass to scare them off. Bound for England, the two are remarried in a proper ceremony, and Ellen, after some argument, commits herself to William's love of freedom: ""You trusted me to bring you out of slavery. I suppose I must trust you to bring me to freedom."" There is no subtlety or power in Lester's depiction of his black and white types--and the last story, especially, is presented as a mild, sentimental melodrama. However, the true material has its durable interest, and the final focus in each story on the young woman's decision gives a thought-catching twist.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Dial