Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Format: Kindle E-Book
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Total Pages: 240
I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this impacted my opinion of this book or the review provided below.
When Mariah and her young brother Zeke are suddenly freed from slavery, they set out on Sherman’s long march through Georgia during the Civil War. Mariah wants to believe that the brutalities of slavery are behind them forever and that freedom lies ahead. When she meets Caleb, an enigmatic young black man also on the march, Mariah soon finds herself dreaming not only of a new life, but of true love as well. But even hope comes at a cost, and as the treacherous march continues toward the churning waters of Ebenezer Creek, Mariah’s dreams are as vulnerable as ever.
In this powerful exploration of a little-known tragedy perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys, readers will never forget the souls of Ebenezer Creek.
I was drawn to this book because I truly love historical fiction, even more so if it is about an event or time that I know nothing or very little about. I’m a firm believer that one of the goals of historical fiction is to peak the reader’s interest enough to make them want to learn more. Though this book wasn’t quite what I was hoping it would be, it did bring the tragedy at Ebenezer Creek to my attention, and it is something that I want to learn more about since reading this book.
Unfortunately, I struggled with this one more than I would have liked. The first problem I found was that the book was a bit hard to follow at times. Not only did the plot seem jumpy (thoughts and descriptions did not seem complete or would jump quickly from one event to another), there were also many era specific or event specific words and phrases that were used that were never clearly defined. Some of them you could use context clues to determine what was being talked about, but there were multiple times where I was scratching my head and getting frustrated because things were not being explained.
Another obstacle for me was the fact that I am not convinced that this novel did the tragedy at Ebenezer Creek the justice that it deserved (I also realize that I am no expert at all, and am not trying to sound like one). We get most of the history and “meat” of the story through the conversations between the characters, which is okay, but overall I found it lacking. There was a lot more descriptive and interesting information about the events at Ebenezer Creek in the author’s notes at the end of the book, and I’m struggling to understand why all of that information didn’t actually make it into the book. I also was not the biggest fan of the timeline of the book, with the characters reaching Ebenezer Creek towards the very end of the book. I would have liked to see more of the aftermath, as I think the consequences and outcomes of a historical event are just as important as those leading up to it.
I’ll end this review by stating that I wouldn’t consider this Young Adult. Based on how it is written, I think this book would make a great Middle Grade novel. The writing is simple enough for younger readers to process and the story is light enough to not scare or bog down younger readers while still providing them an understanding of the history.
Does reading historical fiction prompt you to learn more?