Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guest Book Review: The Last Runaway

By Sara Steven

The Last Runaway by Tracey Chevalier takes place in 1850, featuring a young Quaker woman named Honor Bright. After traveling from tame England to the the wilds of Ohio, Honor finds herself surrounded by much that is unknown and completely foreign to her. The women are callous and tough, not at all concerned with swear words or getting their petticoats dirty. Shooting a wriggling snake from ten feet away with a rifle is par for the course. If that is the behavior of the local females, imagine how the men behave; spitting in the streets. Mass quantities of alcohol consumption. Having no regard for anyone around them, and certainly not a prim and proper lady, like Honor. Even the nature surrounding the farmsteads and blossoming towns are indistinguishable, with trees that grow unkempt, and flowers that are prickly and unsafe.

Honor has her quilts to keep her reality in check. A master seamstress and quilt maker, she submerges herself in what she knows, while trying hard to learn and adapt to what she doesn’t. It’s a definite learning process.

Set in the time of the Underground Railroad, Honor finds herself an intricate part of the system, aiding and guiding slaves on to freedom and safety, despite her family’s wishes and the threats she receives from others. It seems as though Honor is breaking from what she has been taught as a Quaker, and going against the grain. She is doing what she feels is right, living up to her name as much as she’s able to. There is a bit of a showdown that ensues due to her choices, and we find that Honor evolves as a character; at first a small, timid woman, now growing into a strong, capable fighter.

I wasn’t sure how I’d respond to this book, written fictitiously from a historical standpoint. It’s simple and sweet, and although in the beginning it took some time for me to connect with the background and plot line, there came a point where I wanted to keep reading and not put the book down! The take on slavery as well as the personal connections between Honor and the people she helps along the way is very touching and runs deep. I really was pleasantly surprised.

Sara Steven is a wife and stay-at-home mother of two rambunctious boys in Bellevue, NE. When she’s not running marathons, getting certified in group fitness instruction, or working on her novel, she takes a break and opens up a good book (or turns on her Nook). Find her at her blog, Momarock.

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