The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

The book follows the journey of Cora, a young slave who escapes from a plantation in Georgia with her companion, Caesar, and they head north on an underground railway based on a network of track and tunnels. Throughout their journey they are pursued by a relentless slave-catcher and face a multitude of challenges and dangers. The novel is a realistic narrative, with very strong characterisation and good dialogue. The Author makes everything seem very real and believable and it gets to a point where you are part of that journey. It doesn’t just take you on a journey it takes you through an experience that makes easy to really understand the characters emotions. The development of the main character, Cora, is excellent and throughout the book her character is always developing and she becomes a convincing character. The start of the book ensures we understand everything we need to know about Cora, such as that her mother left her to find freedom, and this helps us feel and understand every decision Cora makes but still the Author still leaves some gaps and ambiguity because we can never really understand what it was like. Deception, prejudice, betrayal and racism are key themes throughout the book and is written in such a way that the story could be in modern day USA or Nazi Germany but the themes and values would still be portrayed and it highlights the many flaws humanity has but at the same time the best humanity has to offer. No word is wasted in the entire book and I think it is a very interesting and powerful book. There is no obvious and clear leadership lesson but it shows us the importance of resilience and staying true to ones values which are key in becoming a successful leader.

Lem Mandara

Rating: 4 Interesting