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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
The Day I Saw the Hummingbird by Paulette Mahurin follows the adventures and life of Oscar, a young black slave in the heartlands of Louisiana around the time of the Civil War. Oscar and his mother dream of freedom and a life of dignity and learning, but when Oscar's mother is brutally beaten at the hands of a drunken and violent overseer, it is time for the then nine-year-old Oscar to leave and seek the famous "underground railway" to the North and to freedom. The book is written from the perspective of an elderly Oscar in 1910, looking back at those times and reflecting sadly that in many ways, certainly in the South, little had changed since he'd made the long journey. One could even extrapolate and say in 2020, some things still haven't changed in the South of the United States. The boy’s journey from frightened child to resourceful, runaway slave is compelling and haunting.
In The Day I Saw the Hummingbird, author Paulette Mahurin captures beautifully the times and the attitudes of the South in those days. Her descriptions of the trials and tribulations faced by the young man and the angst and pain he suffers internally at the treatment of his people, just because their skin is a different color, are both moving and heartfelt. One couldn't help but be drawn into Oscar's world and feel the horrors faced by this little boy and the courage required to survive on that long and arduous journey. Some would argue that only the African-American can tell the "African-American story." Whilst I can respect some of the sentiment behind those thoughts, I am glad that Mahurin and others do not subscribe to this theory. As writers, we must push the boundaries of our cultural and socio-economic experiences and embrace the pain and suffering of all humanity and point out injustice where we see it. It is what we do! And Mahurin does it superbly. Pain, suffering, injustice, love, friendship and the other myriad of human emotions do not belong to and are not confined or identifiable to a particular culture, but are shared across all of humanity and are what binds us together and makes us one race - the human race. Mahurin’s work is both easily readable and deeply moving. The author has a unique ability to portray the deepest of human emotions and pain in vivid and beautiful detail. I can highly recommend this read. It is a masterpiece in my opinion.