Friday, September 25, 2009

Amen to That: How A Tweet Brought Me Black Angels

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Mama, are there any angels Black like me?

I've been as good as any little girl can be.

If I hide my face, do you think they will see?

Mama, are there any angels Black like me? (13)

When a writer like Sharon G. Flake Tweets about a book and says she "loved every word," doesn't it make you wonder what kind of story could be so moving? Doesn't it make you want to track down such a gem for your own enjoyment? It certainly did for me. After reading this post at The Brown Bookshelf, I clicked right on over to Amazon and ordered Black Angels by Linda Beatrice Brown for myself. Two days later, I'm sitting here trying to describe the power of this exquisite novel. Can I do it justice? I'm pretty sure I can't, but I'm going to try because this just might be the most outstanding book I've read this year.

Black Angels is the story of 3 orphans on the run. With war raging all around them, the trio are all lost in the woods of North Carolina, each following the river for his/her own reason. There's Luke, an 11-year-old runaway, heading north to escape the cruel hands of his master; 9-year-old Daylily, terrified and confused after watching Union soldiers murder her mistress; and little Caswell, a 7-year-old white boy who's running from his burning home, trying desperately to find his mother. Fate brings them together, need keeps them that way. Feeling responsible for the youngsters, Luke becomes their fearless leader. As they trudge north, hunger, fatigue and hopelessness settle in. Still, they march onward. Leaving wild animals, fever, soldiers, spies, and vast, bloody battlefields in their wake, they emerge from the woods changed forever.

Their dangerous trek forges an unbreakable bond - the ragtag children become the strongest sort of family. But, two escaped slaves and a rich, white child can't be brothers and sister, at least not in the eyes of a nation divided by race. Even when the war ends "times were bad. It seemed as one war got over, another, trickier one had started. It didn't look good for Black people and freedom" (253). Fearing punishment for abandoning their plantations, Luke and Daylily live in constant fear. After surviving the loss of their homes and kin, how can they bear to lose their newly-formed family, too? If there are angels in God's heaven - Black or otherwise - where are they now? Where and how will three children find the strength to survive in a world ripped apart by fear and hate?

Strong and hopeful, Black Angels is the incredible story of an extraordinary friendship. It celebrates courage, faith and family in all its forms. Unflinchingly honest, but beautifully rendered, it's simply a triumph. A rich, touching, powerful triumph. I can't say it well enough, so I'll let Flake convince you:

"Young people will be reading Black Angels for generations. Teachers will be assigning it and studying it for ages. It's a history lesson, adventure story, and a lesson in love, surviving tough times, and depending on God and one another, all at the same time ... I loved every word."

All I can say is, Amen to that.

Grade: A+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild language and violence related to war and slavery

9 comments:

  1. Wow! I never even saw this on the horizon! I will race my little self over to Changing Hands bookstore and order up a copy for myself!! Thanks for a great review!! You're awesome!

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  2. Actually, Gaye, you're one of the people I suggested to Brown's publisher as someone who might be interested in receiving a galley copy of the book. So, hold off on that trip to Changing Hands and watch your email!

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  3. This sounds excellent - definitely bound for my wish list! Thanks!

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  4. You're a doll!! Thanks TWO million!!

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  5. This sounds terrific ... I am sold! I thoroughly enjoyed your passionate and beautifully written review.

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  6. I just got this in the mail today! I'm so excited to read it!

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  7. My copy also just arrived. Thanks for pointing someone in my direction. I hope to fit it in the line up very soon!

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  8. This is an amazing review. In fact, I am headed over to Amazon right now to buy this book. You are good.

    Thanks for the link-up and be sure to check back Friday AM for the $25 Amazon GC announcement.

    -CYM

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  9. One More Thing: Can you add a link back to my blog for the party?

    Thanks :)

    *Just placed my Amazon book order*

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