CHRISTOPHER PAUL CURTIS
Elijah is the first generation of free-born members of his family. Escaping the oppression of the pre-Emancipation Proclamation and pre-Civil War torn United States, Elijah's family escaped to an established free-black community in Canada. The book focuses on events in Elijah's life - attending school, doing chores, fishing, and playing with his friends. Elijah experiences growing up free in a settlement of former and escaped slaves and he is just beginning to understand what that means when the local "preacher" steals money that is being saved to purchase the freedom of others trapped in the U.S. Elijah embarks on a mission to return the funds to their rightful owners and crosses into the prejudice ridden United States.In this pre-Emancipation era, freedom is cherished. Every slave who makes it to Buxton is greeted by the tolling of the Liberty Bell atop the schoolhouse, repeated 20 times. Buxton, Ontario, Canada was an actual stop along the Underground Railroad and was founded as a community for freed or runaway slaves by an abolitionist.This book takes a candid, yet fictitious, look at the every day life and events of a twelve year old child. Elijah attends school but his teacher is also the Sunday school teacher so in the words of Elijah, "the man is on you like a tick." Elijah struggles with growing up; his mother claims he is fragile but as Elijah has experiences including revealing the death of another member of the community's husband, Elijah believes he is growing up and becoming less fragile; his mother acknowledges his maturation, "What you done was real grown, son!" However Elijah is also young and he makes the mistakes of youth. When describing a situation in which the schoolteacher attempted to explain the saying familiarity breeds contempt, Elijah slips into the vernacular of the day and calls himself and his classmates "little niggas" although his parents have taught him that it is a...
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