This book was horribly sad, it tore my heart open repeatedly. I don't usually read books like this but it was chosen for a book club I wanted to attend. I couldn't even get through the first page without crying. I had to put it down to rest my heart. I never made it to that book club meeting.
I know it is fiction and one major detail was changed but that didn't take away from the story. I know that the majority of the book was close enough to the real thing and the terror that people endured was just as real. I have read about the horrible things that humans did to other humans because of the color of their skin and it is heart-rending. I wish it all could be considered fiction but the sad truth is that this horrible story was a reality for too many souls. There is language that I like to avoid but in this book, it is part of the reality.
The Underground Railroad is a tragic and heartbreaking story that is beautifully written. Colson Whitehead's prose are among the best i've read. The story told is the damning truth of slavery, and the history, philosophy and culture of the American nation and people - how this nation was built, and the brokenness and systemic evil so key to its building. Through imagination and creativity, this story communicates not hard facts, but the undeniable truth about America. Sadly the truth illustrated here in a 19th century context have survived into the 21st century today, and must still be confronted and fought.
One quote that seems key to the story, and the truth it communicates is:
"We can't save everyone. But that doesn't mean we can't try. Sometimes a useful delusion is better than a useless truth."
Sometimes delusion, rather than the cold hard facts, is what we hang on to in order to be saved. But just below the above passage we find this:
"And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes - believes with all its heart - that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn't exist, it can't exist. This place must be a delusion, too. Yet here we are."
To whom does the useful delusion of America belong? Here we are indeed. Looking no further than the current occupant of the White House and his rabid followers, ranging from the factory and farm all the way to the halls of Congress, we see that the delusion that is America is alive today, and must still be confronted and fought, for the sake of every person. Everyone. FOR ALL.
interview with the author: