Mary Downing Hahn Promises to the Dead

ISBN 13: 9780064409827

Promises to the Dead

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9780064409827: Promises to the Dead

A white boy helps a young black runaway slave to freedom in Baltimore City, in the most dangerous days of the Civil War.

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About the Author:

Mary Downing Hahn is the best-selling author of more than twenty award-winning books for young readers, including Stepping on the Cracks, which won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Anna on the Farm is the follow-up to Anna All Year Round, both based on the author’s mother’s memoirs about growing up in Maryland pre-World War I.

From Publishers Weekly:

Hahn's (Anna All Year Round) historical novel, set in a divided Maryland at the beginning of the Civil War, portrays an unconvincing tale of escape from slavery. The story begins with a tenuous premise: 12-year-old narrator Jesse stumbles on a desperate pregnant runaway captive (whom Jesse recognizes), Lydia, and her young son, Perry, fathered by her recently deceased master, Peregrine Baxter. She holds Jesse at knifepoint ("She'd just as soon kill you as look at you," Perry tells Jesse), yet as the woman is dying from childbirth, Jesse promises her that he'll deliver Perry to Peregrine Baxter's sister in Baltimore (though readers will question whether he'd find a welcome reception). While readers may suspend disbelief regarding Jesse's risk taking, they may not take the leap of faith that captives with even more to lose would help them so freely. For example, during a riot inspired by the influx of Union soldiers in Baltimore (based on actual events), the "meanest and most determined slave-catcher in Talbot County" nabs Perry and knocks Jesse, with a pistol, on the head; Jesse faints in front of Judge Baxter's (Peregrine Baxter's father) residence, and the judge's staff secretly nurses him for weeks. The connection between Jesse and Perry is not fully developed, hence their relationship--as well as Jesse's Herculean efforts--seems hollow. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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