Copper Sun

Sharon M. Draper, Author . S&S/Atheneum $16.95 (302p) ISBN 978-0-689-82181-3

Draper's (Forged by Fire ) historical novel takes on an epic sweep as it chronicles the story of 15-year-old Amari, kidnapped from her African village in 1738 and sold into sexual slavery in South Carolina. The horrors of the kidnapping—Amari's parents and little brother are murdered before her eyes—and the Atlantic crossing unwind in exhaustive detail, but the material seems familiar. The story doesn't really take off until Amari reaches her new "home," a rice plantation run by a Snidely Whiplash clone, who presents her to his evil-to-the-core son as a birthday gift. Befriended by the wise cook, a white indentured girl named Polly and the beleaguered mistress of the household, Amari eventually and improbably finds a way to escape. Draper has obviously done her homework, but the narrative wears its research heavily. Every bad thing that befell an African slave either happens to or is witnessed by Amari (e.g., Africans eaten by sharks, children used as live alligator bait, an infant shot dead out of spite). Rape is constant. These lurid elements may appeal to reluctant readers who would normally shy away from historical fiction, but they unfortunately push the story to the brink of melodrama. The author also pulls her punches with a highly implausible happy ending. But after all that Amari has gone through, readers will likely find the conclusion a huge relief. Ages 14-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/09/2006
Release date: 01/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 417 pages - 978-0-7862-8948-6
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4391-1511-4
Paperback - 314 pages - 978-1-4169-5348-7
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