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The Land (2001)
by Mildred D. Taylor
Female Author (722)
Historical Fiction (639)
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Best Family Stories (194)
Books About Boys (122)
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Not as good as Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, but I definitely enjoyed it. My Battle of the Books club talked me into reading this one after one of the students listened to 1 chapter (in audio format) and declared it boring. So not boring! What mostly took away from the book for me was the author throwing in names from Roll of Thunder for no purpose other than to throw them in there. Granger, OK, Jamison, OK too, but it just started to get ridiculous. Generally, prequels are a bad idea.
I have a hard time imagining this type of mentality existed. I hurt for Paul but so glad he achived his goal but at such a price.
Set in the latter half of the nineteenth century, we follow from childhood to maturity Paul-Edward, the son of a Southern white landowner and a black former slave girl. Edward Logan had three sons with by his legal wife along with Paul and his sister by the slave girl, but treated all as equal and taught all his children to respect one another. But while they grew up together as equals it was gradually made clear that as they grew older and went out into the world things would be different for Paul and his sister, and even though Paul looked to be white he would always be regarded as a man of colour, and could not expect equal treatment.
Paul loved his father's land and initially imagined one day it would be his, after all of all his father's children he was the only one with any affinity with the soil, and he was a natural with animals able to pacify and ride the wildest of horses. But as he grew it became apparent that he would never come into possession of this land and so he longed to have land of his own.
Living on his father's land were other freed black slaves. Mitchell, the son of one of these and about Paul's age was a constant tormentor of Paul in his childhood, taunting him and often hitting him. But as they grew older their relationship slowly changed, first to a grudging respect and then to friendship. Paul knew the only way he would get to own land of his own was to leave his father, and this happened sooner than expected and under less than ideal circumstances when both he and Mitchell found themselves on the run. So began their adventures together, and while Paul was always looking to the time he could achieve his goal, Mitchell was happy to go along with him content with whatever each day would bring. During this time they leaned trust and even rely upon each other as their friendship grew and they came to regard themselves as brother.
Much was yet to happen before Paul stood any hope, if ever, of owning land; good fortune interspersed with disaster and tragedy; long ours of labouring for unfair bosses; success racing horses; dealings with dishonest businessmen who thought nothing of cheating a man of colour. But there were also those who recognised Paul and Mitchell's good qualities and would help them. Paul-Edward gives his own account of these early years of his life, and concludes with a brief summary of the years that followed.
Mildred D Taylor writes with honesty and with no apology, highlighting the dreadful inequalities suffered by blacks following the abolition of slavery, thankfully and quite rightly giving no quarter to political correctness. Having based much of The Land on stories told to her by family members about her own family's history it has an air of authenticity and provides an insight on a past way of life. But it is above all a story about friendship, love and loyalty; and a compelling read. My one regret is that it somehow glossed over the details of then transition in the relationship between Paul and Mitchell and their bonding.
Very emotionally moving tale of a half-white child coming of age and struggling to own his own land in Mississippi in the post reconstruction era. Great writing conveys emotion and conflict and a sense of mission.
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Logan Family (1)
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After the Civil War Paul, the son of a white father and a black mother, finds himself caught between the two worlds of colored folks and white folks as he pursues his dream of owning land of his own.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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The best books are often described as "hard to put down." Well, "The Land" was very easy to put down. The story was interesting enough, but there was far too much detail in describing business transactions, or specifics of how much money Paul would make for this, and this, and this etc. Paul is the first person narrator, and once past young childhood, his narration is so reserved and aloof, that I never felt that I knew him all that well. He keeps his emotions always in check, not only from the people he knows, but from we readers as well. So in the end, I didn't care deeply what happened to him. That's why I found it easy to put down. ( )