Grades 6 - 8
Grade level Equivalent: 7.1
Lexile Measure®: 780L
Guided Reading: W
Type of Book: Chapter Book
- Historical Fiction
- African American History
- Slavery, Underground Railroad, Abolition
- Courage, Bravery, Heroism
- Social Studies through Literature
- Tolerance and Acceptance
- Prejudice and Tolerance Experiences
About This Book
This historical novel, set in 1858 (pre- Civil War) parallels the separate but profoundly related life experiences of two girls: Lucy feels stifled by her uptight, upper-middle-class life in Boston and wishes she could leave it forever; Afrika, a slave, is desperately searching for a way to find freedom and decides to leave by the Underground Railroad. As the days pass, Lucy explores her family's history, and Afrika continues to make her way to freedom, narrowly missing being caught. While Afrika struggles north, Lucy finds out a kept family secret: her grandfather was an abolitionist. And then finally, Afrika makes it to the next safe house in the Railroad — which happens to be Lucy's house. When Lucy finds Afrika there, Lucy, inspired by her grandfather, decides to help Afrika and other slaves to freedom. In a risky move, she resolves to journey with Afrika to the North. But can they make it?
Although the girls' experiences parallel one another, Lasky easily leads readers through the book by alternating chapters of their stories until the two meet in Lucy's grandfather's house. Vivid descriptions and period details beautifully complement the characters' strength and believability, and the two female protagonists' courage and determination propel readers to the very last page in this bold, honest portrayal of blacks and whites linked by slavery.