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Chasing the North Star: A Novel by Robert…

Chasing the North Star: A Novel

by Robert Morgan

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7230166,644 (3.74)9



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book follows, in blow-by-blow manner, the escape of the 18-year-old slave Jonah Williams to the North and freedom following a beating by his master in South Carolina. He is soon joined by a young slave woman, Angel, who decides to hitch her star to Jonah and follow him to gain her own freedom.

In a way it is something of an escaping-slave version of the 1987 book Hatchet, the Newbery Honor-winning young-adult wilderness survival novel by Gary Paulsen. Jonah has to overcome a great deal of adversity and a large learning curve to get what he needs to survive. He, along with Angel when he is eventually joined by her, manage by a great many felicitous turns of events, in circumstances when making it to the North alive and without mutilation or death was never a sure thing. It might even be said that Jonah and Angel experienced more luck than was probable.

In any event, the story kept me turning the pages. But I had a couple of strongly-felt criticisms of it.

One is the writing. The descriptions of the changing landscape are well written, but I did not think the dialogue sounded realistic. Rather, I thought it ranged from sophomoric to wooden to improbable in many cases.

My biggest problem, however, was with the character of Angel. While I liked Angel’s perseverance and pluck, I found it difficult to believe that so much rape and abuse by men could be so elevating for her self-esteem, making her feel “beautiful” and “wanted.” On the contrary, her portrayal was alarmingly close to the white stereotype of black women as basically sexualized animals. In addition, I thought that the lines she spoke or thought were pretty appalling, showing not much insight into what a female in her circumstances might be thinking, at least in my opinion.

Evaluation: If the author had stuck to the story of the male escaping slave rather than adding in a female, I think it would have been a much better book. I'm trying my best not to see the author as sharing or being complicit in the salacious gaze of the white men in the book towards Angel, but it's not easy. ( )
  nbmars | Apr 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this book about the the escape of 2 slaves a boy and a girl and there journey traveling north. Many things go wrong along the way. ( )
  rachelep | Mar 9, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Interesting book following an escaped slave from South Carolina to freedom. Jonah and Angel's story was one filled with lucky encounters and scary moments. This book was from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. ( )
  sochri | Aug 4, 2016 |
The main story in this book, a young man's escape from slavery, is pretty straight forward. It's a good story with plenty of tension and well defined characters. In it, eighteen year old Jonah journeys north towards freedom and dignity and gains something more along the way. It's the kind of story that's been told before and will likely be told again. What stands out is the phrasing and cadence of the writing - it's almost song-like or poetic. Ar first I thought this was written to include younger readers with its simple wording (it's not) but I soon realized it's like the proverbial still waters - it runs deep.

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In 'Chasing The North Star' you follow Jonah from when he makes a run from his plantation in South Carolina to make a run for the north, for Canada. With what I imagined before I opened the book, to what actually happened was quite different. More that I assumed that Jonah would try to be a lot more sneaky on his journey north, but with going through the book, I realized it may be quite obvious one is a runaway that way. (Though it probably does have it's usefulness.) Along his way north, around North Carolina, Jonah meets Angel. She realizes what he's doing and decides to follow him. I wasn't really fond of Angel at first, we meet her after about four or so chapters with Jonah, and I realized since Jonah wasn't fond of Angel following behind him, neither was I. It seems I took my cues on my opinion of Angel from Jonah himself, which fascinates me, since that's usually not the case when I read books. Overall I can say I liked 'Chasing The North Star'. It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't bad either. ( )
  princess_mischa | Jun 24, 2016 |
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