My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Haley dedicates this story, “To the memory of all those whose courage, daring, and self-sacrifice made the Underground Railroad possible.”
It’s almost as if I were leaning over his shoulder as he conducted his family research…So many questions come up when we find the shortest blurbs on what person was where and when. This short story appears to have bubbled up out of a few names and places, and Haley was the fortunate scribe watching it unfold in his imagination. How much of this was anything close to reality? That’s where this story ends and so many others begin…
What might happen if an old-school Southern lad rubbed shoulders with those damned do-gooder Yankees on the hallowed ground of Princeton U? And what if some of their experience starts to rub off on him? Add to that the turbulent period of youth to manhood, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a crisis. How could anyone remain unchanged through an intense trial of spiritual and moral dilemma?
This could easily be a trite made-for-TV movie, as the characters seem very typecast, yet Haley masterfully creates a comfortable discomfort that draws us close enough to consider our own integrity. What ideals do you consider worth fighting for? What ideals would you be willing to die for? Not every author can pull that off so gracefully.
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I hope you don't mind my cheeky title too much. I can't help but see the news headlines in contrast to my experience with people of enormously varied backgrounds, and wonder how anyone can get away with bigotry anymore? Seriously! All it takes is for each one of us to go back a generation or two, or maybe a bit farther for some, and discover their ancestors came from somewhere else. Or at least, one would hope so, otherwise the genetics get messy. Know what I'm saying? Expand your world, people! But I don't need to tell you that—you're obviously a reader, and readers go places.