cover image True North: A Novel of the Underground Railroad

True North: A Novel of the Underground Railroad

Kathryn Lasky. Scholastic, $14.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-590-20523-8

Lasky (The Night Journey) again combines suspenseful fiction with history as she intersects the lives of two 19th-century adolescent girls: Afrika, a run-away slave from a Virginia plantation, and Lucy, a restless young socialite from Boston. While Afrika travels the Underground Railroad, dodging slave catchers and their hounds, Lucy prepares for her sister's upcoming wedding to a prominent New Yorker even though she would rather be helping her grandfather with his abolitionist efforts. The paths of the two girls converge when Lucy discovers Afrika hiding in her grandfather's house after ""Pap"" has died from a stroke. Together, the two girls embark on a dangerous journey to the Canadian border. Both Afrika and Lucy are, from the beginning, admirable, likable heroines, but the true colors of other characters are not revealed until long after the girls' daring trip. Lasky clearly illustrates the tyranny of slave masters, the support of slave labor in the North, the restrictions placed on 19th-century women and the philosophies of such revolutionaries as Robert Gould Shaw, Abigail Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson (each of whom plays a minor role in this riveting drama). Telling her story with sensitivity and flair, the author amply fulfills the goal she states in an afterword: to write ""within the structures of logic and judicious imagination."" Ages 12-up. (Sept.)