It's very rare for me to to feel the way I did reading this book since it's a work of fiction. How often does a person find a fictional book and actually get so into it that it seems real? Maybe that's because it's so easy to realize that Clotee, along with the rest of the characters, WERE real..somewhere, sometime, these fictional characters were probably right on the mark.
This is another book that would be a great one to give to a younger reluctant reader. I'm so happy I read it- it's so worthwhile. We've all learned in school about slavery and the daily life of the slaves. I know for myself, when someone is pushing something on me, no matter how interested I may be, I don't give it my all. This, having read it on my own, was a great look into the daily slave life.
It's hard to read, even being fiction, because again, you know there were people who lived exactly like this. That's a hard pill to swallow. It really makes you think.
Clotee was written absolutely fantastic. McKissack managed to make me feel like I actually knew Clotee and was right there seeing these parts of her life.
The author inculdes some ending pages with a historical note and some other interesting parts. There are some pictures of a five generation slave family, a map showing slave states versus non-slave states, hand written passes for a slave to go to the store, a note from Fredirick K (who was Fredirick Douglas) for a slave who was running away, etc. There was even a bulletin showing a horse for sale....with a slave for sale being right underneath.
This would definitely be an eye-opener for someone who doesn't know much about that time already. And for the people like me, who know some but now enough, it's still very worthwhile.
Clotee is an orphan living on the plantation of "Mas' Henley" and "Miz Lilly." Her owners have put her to work fanning Miz Lilly and her young son William during tutoring sessions. William may not be keen to learn, but Clotee is. She has learned to read while looking over the boy's shoulder and eventually she teaches herself how to write. She practices her newfound skills by writing in a makeshift, secret diary, which is found by William's new tutor. Luckily, he turns out to be an abolitionist. Through his work, Clotee helps some of her friends escape to the North, but she herself chooses to stay behind on the plantation as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Clotee is such a vibrant, fully rounded character that it is almost painful to think of her left on the plantation while her friends and fellow slaves go to freedom. McKissack brings Clotee alive through touching and sobering details of slave life, told in such a matter-of-fact way that their often brutal nature is made abundantly clear. However, this is in no way a depressing book. In fact, it is an inspiring look at a young girl coming of age in terrible circumstances who manages to live life to the fullest.?