Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BookTuesday: Across the Wide River

Today’s book is Across the Wide River by Stephanie Reed. It’s published by Kregel Publications, who provided a free copy of the book in exchange for the review.
Across the Wide River
This book is an historical fiction title, aimed at the teenage years. It’s based on a real family in the 1800s that worked toward the abolition of slavery by guiding slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The family was (and is) real, though this book isn’t a chronicle of their actual work. Rather, it’s a novel inspired by them and by studying the real memoirs they left behind.
The plot line of the book is simple: Lowry Rankin is growing up with a father who is an abolitionist minister. As Lowry grows, his involvement with his father’s work grows, but eventually a boy becomes a man and has to begin making his own decisions. The work portrays a glimpse into the emotional wrestling that went into those decisions, as well as the personal sacrifices involved.
Admittedly, there is little intensive action in this book. However, Reed doesn’t claim to have written an action book. It’s a work to detail the horrors of slavery, even “good” slavery, and the willingness of some to look away for the sake of their own wealth. She has put together a book to challenge the reader to think about whether you would look away or delve into the sacrifice necessary.
While this book was published back in 2004, I find that it remains a timely read. The world constantly brings new challenges, but the choices that children and teenagers will have to make now and into adulthood reflect Lowry’s dilemmas: how much will I have to sacrifice? Am I willing to do this? What if I never know if it did any good?
This book leaves me with these questions, and will hopefully challenge others the same way.

The author, Stephanie Reed, was kind enough to stop by and leave the comment below. I thought I'd highlight the link she left for sample chapters of this book and its sequel: http://bit.ly/rdRKvp



  1. Thank you, Doug, for a very thought-provoking review. I love seeing what readers take away; sometimes I didn't even know I put it in there, and of course that's the Lord's work!

    Your final question is timely. What if I never know my sacrifice did any good? It's not as easy as it sounds when your natural instinct is to help others--we want to see the results. It almost brings me to tears as there's a fresh personal experience where I can relate.

    May I direct your readers to the first two chapters of both Wide River and the sequel, The Light Across the River? Read both chapters here: http://bit.ly/rdRKvp

    Thanks for sharing your readers with me! I appreciate it.

  2. Stephanie,

    Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    I really took that last question from the ending specifically, but just thinking about the whole Underground Railroad. All the people knew was if they had conducted their stop correctly. They couldn't know for certain how many slaves made it to freedom and how many were captured later. Yet they had to keep doing.

    I'm so results-oriented that I think I might miss opportunities to do what is right and good because I can't nail down whether it worked.

  3. It's a good reminder for me. Write the books God gives me without worrying about sales, or even whether anyone ever reads them. Ouch. :-)


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