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THE LAND by Mildred D. Taylor


by Mildred D. Taylor

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8037-1950-7
Publisher: Putnam

“Some white men took care of their colored children; most didn’t. My daddy was one who did.” This is the central conflict of Paul-Edward Logan’s life: his daddy and white brothers love him, but he can never be their equal. His parentage sets him apart from the “colored” population as well, until he is virtually isolated in a society almost totally defined by color. This sprawling tale explores the history of the Logan family and the consequences of the miscegenation that caused diarist Mary Chesnut to call slavery the “monstrous institution.” Pride causes Paul-Edward to leave his father’s land in Georgia and make his way with his best friend to Mississippi. It is here, of course, that he finds and struggles to buy the land that will sustain the Logan family for generations to come. Readers have come to expect Taylor (The Well, 1995, etc.) to deliver a powerful story marked by defining moments that crystallize for the reader the unique cruelty of the post-Reconstruction South, and she continues to do so here. Paul-Edward encounters betrayal and brutality at every turn, from the brother who turns away as his white friends taunt Paul-Edward, to the lumber-camp boss who works him almost beyond endurance, to the landowner who reneges on a land deal. His narration has a tendency, however, to overexplain these events rather than letting them speak directly to the reader. This somewhat dilutes the power of the story; the narrator’s mature distance from the events also saps the story of some of the immediacy found in other installments in the Logan saga. Still, readers who know the Logans will enjoy meeting the youthful avatars of familiar characters, especially the resolute Caroline—Cassie’s Big Ma. Moreover, this is an aspect of the legacy of slavery not often confronted in children’s books; Paul-Edward makes the reader feel its grotesque injustices. They will root for him, as they have for his children and grandchildren, to overcome. (Fiction. 12 )