Sunday, October 19, 2014
Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy
Such an interesting story. Very different from other middle grade of YA stories I've read about slaves running during the 1800s. First there is the aspect that Lark is white, but no less a slave than Zenobia is. She realizes though, that while she was cruelly treated, it was still nothing like what Zenobia and other Black slaves suffered.
Unusually, story begins and ends in Virginia. Zenobia and Lark run, but they never actually get very far away from Lark's home, despite all their traveling and hardships. This book really showed the ruthless determination that slave catchers had, especially when a big reward was involved. And Lark's father is not about to let her go so easily. We never actually see any of the characters safe to freedom. We never see them get out of Virginia.
Zenobia knows about the Underground Railroad, but despite that, it's not so easy to jump on. And even when they do find a safe house, they're not safe. That was definitely a theme of the book, looking for safety and freedom, never quite finding it, never stopping hoping it's out there somewhere.
Zenobia and Lark are taken in by a Quaker woman, Auntie, who shelters them and arranges for Zenobia's escape to Canada. Canada, at this point in history, is pretty much the only safe place to run to, because even if a slave made it to the North, they could still be captured and returned. The Quakers believe in nonviolence and are against slavery. Many in the Quaker community are becoming reluctant to help runaways, because the runaways' harsh treatment is coming down on them too. Indeed, when Zenobia is discovered and taken, Auntie is taken too. She never stops believing that nonviolence is the only answer though.
Lark undergoes some changes throughout the book. At first, she's too afraid to have anything to do with Zenobia. She doesn't want any more trouble then she already has. But she can't help but see Zenobia's fear is similar to her own. And Lark starts to think about why she's never left the people who hurt her. She realizes she's been a slave too, and that she doesn't have to anymore. She can care and help other people, too.
The book ends with hope. And we are left so wanting these characters to find their Promised Land, after everything they've been through. Great historical fiction read.
Running Out of Night comes out November 1, 2014.