Book Reviews

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Cora was a slave on the Randall plantation when she was approached by Ceasar to runaway. Initially Cora declined, she had not thought about running away even though her mother ran without her and was never caught she didn’t think of it for herself. As changes start to happen on the plantation it puts Cora in the crossfire of her new master her old masters terrible brother Terrance. It was then that Cora decided to run with Ceasar. 

This was a tough read for me. Of course I knew this was a historical fiction set during Slavery but I wasn’t prepared for how dark this would be, although I’m not sure why I wasn’t. I’ve had this book on my TBR for almost three years and finally decided to read it before I watched the show on Amazon. It took me about a week to read this because I kept putting it down, not because it wasn’t a good read but because it was such a hard read. After a couple hours I would pick it back up and read a little more because I needed to know what was going on with Cora and Ceasar.

This was an amazing book, there was a fictitious underground railroad (literally underground) with conductors and abolitionist who helped runaways escape to the north. I always appreciate when historical facts are written into a fictional story and the way Colson Whitehead put these events into his story was genuis. There were also some things that felt so real I just knew it had to of happened but when I did my research it didn’t actually happen. These types of moments that felt so real is what made the book so good. This book was very descriptive and I was able to visualize every scene but it’s also what made me take so many breaks.

Cora’s journey of a runaway slave renewed my appreciation for the ancestors who had the will to risk their lives for freedom. Cora saw so much on her journey to freedom, She saw death like she had never seen it before, she was forced to survive on her own at times, she had to literally fight for her life and freedom, and every time she found what she thought was her new home and life it was snatched away from her but she never gave up.

I don’t know why I thought I would get a happy ending (probably because I read so many romance books). The ending was very sad and reminded me of a quote I highlighted in the book…

“The whites came to this land for a fresh start and to escape the tyranny of their masters, just as the freeman had fled theirs. But the ideals they held up for themselves, they denied others.” 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I then went on to torture myself by binge watching the tv show on Amazon Prime because apparently I hadn’t had enough yet. I can honestly say the show was pretty good and while there were a few things that were different from the book for the most part it followed the same storyline. I don’t think this is one of the times I can say the show was not as good as the book. I can see why this show is being nominated for an Emmy. The acting was amazing – in the book I felt like Ceasar cared more for Cora then he let on but I didn’t really feel the chemistry but in the show I could feel the chemistry from them from the moment he looked at her and when he carried her out of the house to the school yard with so much care in the world it was obvious he cared for Cora.

While watching the show I could feel almost everything Cora was going through, I literally sat in my living room with a permanent frown or tears in my eyes as I watched this show. The only thing I didn’t like was the North Carolina episodes I felt didn’t focus a lot of Cora’s experience (her mental and physical) while in the attic. In the book Cora went through it in that attic and I didn’t think that was reflected as well in the TV show as it was in the book. Overall this was an amazing read and an amazing show, you honestly can’t go wrong with either option you choose but if you are a reader like myself, I would suggest the book and then the show if you can handle both if not the book or the show will suffice.

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