Friday, January 25, 2013

The Last Runaway

Title:  The Last Runaway
Author:  Tracy Chevalier
Publication Information:  Dutton, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2013. 305 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on an interest in the author's work. The book came as a hardcover edition from the library.

Favorite Quote:  "Each time Honor's life change, she found she missed what she'd had before .... But there was no use dwelling on what her life might have been:  such thinking did not help. She had noticed that Americans did not speculate about past or alternative lives. They were used to moving and change."

Honor Bright is a young Quaker girl from England who accompanies her sister Grace to the United States in the nineteenth century. She emigrates not as much to come to the US but rather to get away from her life in England. A tragedy forces her to take yet a different path into her new chosen world. Along the way, she gets involved with the Underground Railroad.

The book to me was an unexpected story. Based on the title and the book description, I expected a story centered around slavery and the Underground Railroad. In that respect, I was disappointed. The Underground Railroad is a big part of this story, but it is not the central story.

This, for me, is more of a coming of age story - it is Honor Bright's story. Through her choices, circumstances, and the people she meets, Honor Bright grows up. She learns to stand up for herself and her ideals. She also learns that often, people's realities lead to a compromise of ideals and justifications of that compromise. She learns that life is not black and white but full of nuances and a spectrum between the two.

So, the book was not what I expected it to be. However, once I realigned my focus to the focus of the story, it was a compelling story. I can't wait to see what Tracy Chevalier writes next.

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