Book Review: Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriet Gillem Robinet (Five Stars)


Book Review: Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriet Gillem Robinet

(Five Stars)

“What you reckon owning land be like?” “We’ll wake singing and go to bed laughing. We be having both joy and peace.”

Historical fiction of the best sort. Robinet looks into the lives of freed slaves in the post-Civil War South through the eyes of a young freed slave. Pascal has a heap of challenges, but how he learns to face them makes for entertaining and educational reading.

“White folks should be glad we free so they don’t got to be so mean no more.”

Thoroughly researched. Of necessity in a story this compact and intended for young readers, Robinet simplifies her peripheral characters to allow extra depth to her central cast. Nevertheless, the spectrum of characters presents many of the types a Psacal or Nelly would have met.

“They say we crazy to be thinking slaves could be smart enough to farm. Say, ‘Go back.’”

The author walks a fine line trying to represent education level and ethnicity in her dialogue. Mostly successful.

“Gideon would break one crumb into two to share.”

Psacal’s journey follows the epic journey format of high fantasy and adventure stories. We think we know how it will turn out but getting there is half the fun.

“People didn’t need to own land to be somebody. Freedom be here … can’t nobody take it away. And he thought, thank you Mama.”