Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children - Book Review

From the cover :

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.

Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. 

Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

My thoughts :

After recently reading a few lackluster novels that failed to really capture my attention, The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy succeeded in breaking a ridiculous reading slump. The main character, Sarah Brown, was fascinating and inspiring as she rose above horrible tragedies in her life to serve and love others. As she risks her own life to do daring and important work with the Underground Railroad, she continues her father's legacy but also builds her own. With exhaustive and careful research, Sarah McCoy beautifully pays respects to this historical character, painting her as admirable, dignified and strong.

I equally enjoyed the contemporary story of Eden. Looking back my own four year struggle with infertility seems short but in the moment, unable to see the future blessings, the longing and heartache regularly threatened to overwhelm. The Mapmaker's Children allows the reader to fully feel and sympathize with Eden's extreme emotions. While behaving at time erratically and foolishly, she is an empathetic character.

McCoy successfully weaves Sarah and Eden's stories together to provide continuity and power to their stories. Though at times unnecessarily wordy, The Mapmaker's Children succeeds at being a novel that induces a strong emotional reaction. It made me feel and for that very reason, I loved it.

Coincidentally, while reading about the work of the Underground Railroad to free slaves prior to the Civil War, a friend shared with me the work of a modern day organization Operation Underground Railroad that is working to free slaves now. Two million children in the world are currently sex slaves and Operation Underground Railroad is freeing them. You can read more about this organization and how you can become an abolitionist to help free slaves now at this article and on the organization's website.

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy is published by Crown and releases on May 5, 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Mapmaker's Children. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

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