Friday, August 9, 2013

Light in the Darkness by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Know anything about "pit schools"? Neither did I. Seems super important now that I have added one more gold nugget of history to my small collection of knowledge connected to slavery and the 1860's in the U.S. The full title of this book is Light in the Darkness: A Story About How Slaves Learned in Secret. Definitely worth shining a little light on how those enslaved learned the beginnings of how to read and write, all with the weight of life and death in their hands and minds as they sought out pit schools to study at.

Cline-Ransome has crafted a solid book here, molding the story around Rosa and her mother and the delicate, dangerous moments when they took the life-threatening risk of venturing out into the night to learn in the pit school set up by another slave. The illustrations are dark and threatening, just like the brutal slave hunters who relentlessly sought out their prey. As I read this story, my mind made connections to other books telling similar and important stories (Henry's Freedom Box, Unspoken, and Almost to Freedom LEAP to my mind along with Hush Harbor, When Thunder Comes, and Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's Bend).

I love historical fiction, and I feel this growing awareness of how I seek out historical fiction set in the 1860's about the resilient lives of slaves and the other people who collectively worked to move us past the tremendous limits of judgment. Light in the Darkness leads us one step further into knowing the truth that lay so quietly hidden beneath the ugliness of the times.

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