Historical Fiction That Tackles Slavery

Today I have a work of historical fiction that tackles slavery.  I can’t lie.  This is usually the type of book I shy away from because it gets me way too emotional.  But I love Christopher Paul Curtis and it is a National Book finalist so I took one for the team and dug in.  Gosh, was I rewarded with a fabulous read.

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Title: The Journey of Little Charliehistorical fiction that tackles slavery journey of little charlie

Author: Christopher Paul Curtis

Target: Grades 6-8

Series: No

What this book is about:

Charlie’s family are sharecroppers in South Carolina.  But when Charlie’s father dies, Charlie must accompany Cap’n Buck, a man to whom his father owed money, on a mission.  The mission it turns out is to track down slaves who have made their way to Detroit and freedom. But Charlie starts to realize that what he is doing doesn’t feel right.  The only problem is that Cap’n Buck is not a man you double cross.

Why I love this story:

  • This is not the type of story that usually appeals to me.  Whenever a character is suffering, it just makes my heart ache.  But Curtis is a masterful storyteller and I was drawn into this one immediately.  There is absolute cruelty here, but it is presented in a way that readers can handle.  Slavery is not an easy topic.
  • The dialect is quite thick in this book.  Strangely I didn’t have an issue with it but some readers might.  It certainly brings home the education level and ignorance of Charlie so I can see why Curlis used it.  Stick with it.  After about a chapter or two readers will catch on.
  • Charlie is a hero in the end and I can’t say the reader won’t see it coming.  But knowing his heart is kind is part of what makes this story so strong and readable in the end.  This is the first novel I have read by Curtis where the main character is white, and it is an eye-opening perspective.

Who this book is for:

Great for kids who enjoy historical fiction.  If you liked the author’s other books this one will certainly please.  Good choice for kids who like The Parker Inheritance or The Book of Boy.

Final thoughts:

This one could use a better cover.

To purchase this book:

Click on the following link to connect to Amazon:  The Journey of Little Charlie.  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.