TROUBLE DON'T LAST by Shelley Pearsall


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At fellow slave Harrison's insistence, young Samuel is catapulted into an escape attempt from a Kentucky plantation that has been his whole world. Troublesome Sam has been in the care of elderly Lilly and Harrison since the sale of his mother long ago. Life has been so circumscribed by his condition of slavery that it is hard for him to understand the stakes or even want to succeed. Samuel's naïvetÉ is realistic but almost irritatingly persistent as danger mounts. Old man Harrison, whose creative ethics and gritty determination guide them on their way, is increasingly revealed as a complex man, and Samuel gradually gains an understanding of himself and the world around him. The vile nature of slavery is not underplayed as the notion of owning a person clearly creates both horrendous hubris and evil in the owner as well as tremendous pain and suffering of the owned. One of the best underground railroad narratives in recent years, Pearsall's portrayal of both helping and helped are more rounded and complex than the more simplistic view often espoused. Greed, hypocrisy, and sanctimonious paternalism are clearly perceived by the fugitives dependent on these strangers who hold lives in their hands. This succeeds as a suspenseful historical adventure with survival at stake and makes clear that to succeed Harrison and Samuel, as well as others, must never give up even while combating manhunters, bloodhounds, mental illness, disease, hunger, cold, and their own despair. (Fiction. 11-14)

ISBN: 075691535X
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Knopf