Out of Slavery: A Novel of Harriet Tubman
by Carol Trembath
Lakeside Publishing Mi

"Survivors of the stings of slavery and the risky tests of runaways share a common chain. We are linked by suffering and an uncommon faith in each other."

Trembath’s affecting novel begins with a young Cecelia (Cece) fearing for her safety. In a bold plan, Cece and brother, Lou, escape the plantation with a “trembling group” on the Underground Railroad, guided by the “Moses of our people,” Harriet Tubman. Cece is curious and intimidated by the confident woman with a bounty on her who reads the forest and suffers unexpected blackouts, the result of a blow to the head as a child by a cruel foreman. Traveling by night, fully aware of the consequences of capture or abandonment, they reach safety and freedom.

During the Civil War, Trembath centers on Cece and Harriet, now nurses aiding wounded Union soldiers, as they witness destruction from the “wild beast” of war. Lou and Cece’s new husband, Will, fight in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers against Fort Wagner under the command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. They face “murderous fire” and the “teeth of the death.” As Lou gradually recovers, Will is lost to his mortal wounds, and Cece faces her newfound freedom alone in a “fatherless nation” deeply shattered and torn.

The strong fictional portrayal and dramatization of events in and around Harriet Tubman’s life during a pivotal, dark period of America’s past is timely and moving. Seen through the eyes of Cece, Trembath’s fast-paced and tightly woven tale relies on rich historical evidence and the work of scholars. But Trembath wisely doesn’t focus wholly on Harriet Tubman but also provides well-defined supporting characters. And she doesn’t shy from her characters’ fates, giving the reader realistic depictions of a people in bondage, the devastating effects of war, and the power of humanity to generate change. The slim novel is a transformative read, reminding us of our current racial crisis while celebrating the heroic crusades of the anti-slavery movement.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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