The Adventures of Sunny Washington

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
260 Pages
Reviewed on 07/19/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Dickie Erman’s historical fiction novel, The Adventures of Sunny Washington, wastes no words and spares no feelings regarding the attitudes and treatment of black people by whites. So many times, I shook my head in disbelief, beginning with the heartbreak of Sunny’s mother when she realizes her two young sons have been sold off by her master without her knowledge, after which she is sent packing, leaving little Sunny on the plantation. Eventually, the young adult Sunny decides to risk her life by running away and hooking up with two other young slaves on the run. Using the Underground Railroad to reach the relatively free state of Illinois, the three young people manage to elude slave catchers. When an influential black man convinces white leaders to offer black slaves autonomy on an island off Haiti, the trio separates, and a suspicious Sunny, with the help of Quakers, makes her way to Canada. Her choice proves to be the right one.

This story of the trio’s struggles constitutes the primary plot. But it’s the subplot about a good, Christian black slave, Thomas, falsely accused of raping a promiscuous white teenager that hits readers hardest. The injustice he endures in a court where the jury of 12 white men returns a guilty verdict because they are more concerned about explaining an innocent ruling that makes your skin crawl. While children are not the targeted readers, Dickie Erman’s writing style and information are suitable to and would rivet mature tweens. The Adventures of Sunny Washington is a quick, easy read with enough background information to interest but not bore a younger audience. The plot moves quickly, and the characters are relatable. Adults, on the other hand, in light of everyday current events, will wonder just how far society and white supremacists have come since the 1850s.

K.C. Finn

The Adventures of Sunny Washington is a work of fiction in the historical, slice-of-life, and sociocultural writing subgenres. It is best suited to the mature adult reading audience owing to scenes of violence, the use of strong language throughout, and a frank discussion of the abhorrent nature of slavery. Penned by author Dickie Erman, this African-American-centered novel takes us on the wild journey of the titular protagonist, Sunny. As Sunny navigates a dangerous life in the mid-nineteenth century, she must find her own path to freedom whilst confronting slave catchers, allies, enemies, legislation, and the grim truth about America’s full involvement in the slave trade.

Author Dickie Erman holds nothing back in this rich historical novel which will educate readers not only on the brutal facts of American history but also deliver a deep lesson in empathy as a result of its extensive emotional development. Sunny is a deeply likable character from the off, and her resolute nature carries her through some unspeakably rotten moments with a great deal of dignity, strength, and hope for the future despite the sorry state of affairs all around her. I found the descriptive quality of the novel to be cinematic in its commitment to creating scenery, but it also goes beyond just the visual to give a real visceral sense of what it must have been like to feel your heart pounding in your ears as you fear for your life in every tense moment. Overall, The Adventures of Sunny Washington is an intelligently crafted work of historical fiction deeply rooted in cold hard facts, with innovative uses of description and narrative to bring a heartfelt tale to life. A highly recommended read indeed.