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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
North to Freedom by Karen Meyer is the story of the escape of two young slave boys, Moses and Tom. The boys take their chance to flee from their cruel owners in Kentucky and make their way to the freedom of Canada. Relying on the assistance of the enlightened folk who provide safe passage, shelter and hide-outs, they find goodness and kindness in many. But who can they really trust and will the slave catchers and their allies (who want the reward) get to them and force them back to Kentucky before they reach safe new lives?
Karen Meyer’s story is a well-written and often nail-biting adventure that takes the reader on a perilous journey to reach freedom. Danger and threats are at every turn, but this contrasts with the kindness and bravery of those who are willing to help runaway slaves. North to Freedom takes a poignant look at the horrific abuse and cruelty that befell those forced into slavery in this period of history (1800s). While fiction, it is also a true reflection of the “underground railroad” or passage to freedom that was set up by many and they are included as characters in the story. Meyer conveys the desperation and, at the same time, the faith in God of many who were consigned to live such terrible lives.
I loved the characters of Moses and Tom – their determination, bravery and belief in the goodness of many. The Butler family showed human nature at its best and, while the story is about escape from slavery, the focus is very much on the goodness of more enlightened people of that time. This is a book that will teach young readers about slavery through involving them in the plight of the two young characters. It will provoke discussions about the immorality of slavery and enable young readers to reflect and learn. Highly recommended as an important addition to any child’s home or class library.