Elijah Freeman is the first child born free in Buxton, Canada West, a settlement of escaped slaves. While life is mostly good for a kid in Buxton, across the river in America, slaves continue to be captured, sold, and treated cruelly, to say the least.
This story is full and rich. Elijah is recognizably real by the historical standards of the novel and by today’s standards. He’s a “fra-gile” boy, quick to tears, and he’s got an incredible talent for throwing stones with enough speed and accuracy to catch fish by hitting them on the head when they come to the surface to take a horsefly.
When someone steals the money Elijah’s friend sends to purchase freedom for his wife and children, Elijah is thrown into the horrible and dangerous world of slavery, a world he has only heard about in stories.
I finished listening to this today but only because I decided to clean the garage when I returned from my trip to the mailbox. That’s the audio book equivalent of staying up until 2 a.m. because I can’t put a book down. I was quite a sight, I imagine, shuffling around the garage, blubbering, breaking down cardboard boxes, sniffing, stuffing extra insulation around the garage door, blowing my nose, sorting through electrical supplies. I’m what you might call a fra-gile listener.
What’s on my nightstand? I’ve been reading several YA books from the 80’s and early 90’s that the library discarded. Nothing I would recommend, and nothing that strikes me as a conversation-starter. (Sorry, Shell.)