Thursday, January 26, 2017

Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I know it's wrong what I'm going to say but I don't care. I've come to the point that I am just happy to have made it through. Similarly to the brave slaves that are introduced in The Underground Railroad, my journey through this novel was treacherous, exhausting, and necessary. I know, I know, I gave the novel a 4-star rating. And every star is deserved, I just can't ignore that it took so much out of me to keep going on my journey to freedom to read another book by way of making it to the end of this one.

Colson Whitehead had my attention from the beginning. I was enthusiastic about taking this journey with him and Cora as we explored his interpretation of the underground railroad. Unlike most historic fiction, this one is more on the literary side than factual... as far as the underground railroad goes. The underground railroad was described as an actual train that runs on schedule to the next stop. Options to get on or off force our heroine Cora to choose to go or stay in the "safety" of the current stop. I was entranced with this idea for at least 60% of the novel.

The Underground Railroad has a plethora of positive reviews. None I can say are undeserved. Whitehead is descriptive and creative, painting a world that is full of so much sadness and carnage. To imagine a slave pondering if maybe, just maybe, her rightful place is to be a slave instead of a free person breaks my heart. To believe that this curse was given by a God that was given to them just screams... To rationalize things so basic as freedom just burns me up inside.

Whitehead's literary prowess kept me reading but it was not lost on me that I was simply trudging along on a long journey based on the possibility of something better than what was. Suffice it to say, I was quite bored with this novel. I wanted to appreciate Cora and Caesar but as their idea of freedom shifted, so did my interest in this novel. I guess what I'm trying to say is there are spurts of action and tension only to be followed by longer spurts on nothing going on. I imagine any attempt to evade a slave owner would be more tense than suggested in Whitehead's novel. 

Ultimately, I did really enjoy reading The Underground Railway. I felt it to be a refreshing look on something so obscure to most who can even imagine the danger my ancestors went through to simply be free. My only gripe is I wish it wasn't so damn...average.

Copy provided by Doubleday Books via Netgalley

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