The Underground Railroad and 11 Other Books to Read During Black History Month

Colton Whitehead the underground railroad book review

I loved the book The Underground Railroad.  I read it before it won the National Book Award and The Pulitzer Prize! It is an eye-opening, profound, and wonderful book that I feel should be compulsory reading in every high school across the country. The events depicted are so pertinent to today’s society and are a reminder of the brutal history of this country.

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The Underground Railroad begins with Cora, an orphaned slave from a Georgia Plantation decides to follow in her mother’s footsteps and escape the bonds of slavery. The book follows Cora on her journey through the Underground Railroad that has been imagined into a rickety connection of tracks running beneath the ground.

At each stop along the journey, the stations bring the feeling of a different time in history (like Germany during the second world war). I found myself completely immersed in the story and it was shocking each time I re-entered reality. Every posting for a runaway slave, with the exception of the final one, is a real “advertisement” placed in a paper. These are vivid reminders that despite the surreal twist, this book is based on a very real, very violent history. I read this book and cheered for Cora and cried along with her.

I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Whitehead speak about the book and he was a brilliant speaker. He was able to relate the horrific past of the United States to everyone  without ever preaching. The story itself is heart-wrenching and brilliant. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this book to do it justice. Sit, read and change your way of viewing the world.

February is Black History Month.  It is the perfect time to read this amazing book if you haven’t.  And if you have, we wanted to give you

11 other amazing books to read

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoot

“Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. More….

 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Winner of the National Book Award

“Published to unprecedented acclaim, The Color Purple established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. This is the story of two sisters—one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. More…..

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

“Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who’s always taken orders quietly, but lately she’s unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. More…

 

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

“Early in the spring of 1750, in the village of Juffure, four days upriver from the coast of The Gambia, West Africa, a man-child was born to Omoro and Binta Kinte.”

So begins Roots, one of the most extraordinary and influential books of our time. More…

Someone Knows My Name: A Novel/ Book of Negroes (non-American Editions) by Lawrence Hill

“Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. “Wonderfully written…populated by vivid characters and rendered in fascinating detail.” —Nancy Kline, New York Times Book Review

Kidnapped from Africa as a child, Aminata Diallo is enslaved in South Carolina but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan she becomes a scribe for the British, recording the names of blacks who have served the King and earned their freedom in Nova Scotia. More….

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave

“We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. More…

The kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

“In this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate. More…

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas soon to be a major motion picture.The Hate U Give by  Angie Thomas

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. More…

 

Push by Sapphire

Relentless, remorseless, and inspirational, this “horrific, hope-filled story” (Newsday) is certain to haunt a generation of readers. Precious Jones, 16 years old and pregnant by her father with her second child, meets a determined and highly radical teacher who takes her on a journey of transformation and redemption. More…

 

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Woman Mathemeticians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

“Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. More….

 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

“Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. More…

 

 

The Underground Railroad and 11 Other Books to Read During Black History MonthThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Published by Doubleday Books on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary, African American, General
Pages: 306
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five-stars

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven - but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

 

Did you read the Pulitzer prize winning The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead? If you loved it, here are 11 other books that you should read. February is Black History Month. We have a list of your must read books. Henrietta Lacks, The Color Purple, Beloved and other classics that should be part of any reading list. Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Colson Whitehead. Here is a list of 12 books to read during February- Black history month. The Underground Railroad is a monumental achievement in literature and should be a part of every high school curriculum. We have the books that you should be reading during Black History Month. Beloved, The Help, The color Purple, The immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Roots and more.
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