THE PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE OF HANNAH BROWN AND SARAH SMITH: The Underground Railroad, 1858

Nancy LeSourd, Author . Zonderkidz $9.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-310-70350-1

One of two books inaugurating the Liberty Letters series f0r tweens, this novel appears to share some of the trappings of well-established series (e.g., Dear America, American Diaries) in that it allows readers to approach American history via the voices of strong girl characters. Here, Sarah has moved to Philadelphia from Virginia, where her friend Hannah still lives. Much of their early "correspondence" revolves around religious thoughts and sentiments, with some awkward scene-setting to introduce other characters. Soon, they begin to discuss slavery and the abolitionist movement—it turns out that Sarah's parents are active in the Underground Railroad, as is Hannah's outspoken grandfather. Sarah urges Hannah to help her grandfather, but Hannah is scared and reluctant—until runaway slaves are obliged to seek refuge with her family. Unfortunately, neither girl's voice is distinctive nor is either particularly believable; both characters seem mouthpieces for adult points of view. The religious aspect of the story is handled with a similarly heavy hand, with faith presented as absolute. Readers who don't already share the girls' convictions (and the degree of those convictions) are unlikely to identify with their stories. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 231 pages - 978-0-310-70353-2
Hardcover - 223 pages - 978-0-310-70352-5
Hardcover - 247 pages - 978-0-310-70351-8
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