13 October 2012

William Henry Is A Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke, Book review

Publisher: Moody Publishers
ISBN-10: 0802499732


From the back cover...
The shadow of a face in the window.
The quilt on the line.
Howling dogs. Threatening intruders.
And a railroad that runs underground.
Thirteen-year-old Robert had known little of these things growing up. His southern adolescence consisted of his mother, who viewed slavery as a natural part of life, and his father, whose late night disappearances were becoming more frequent and disruptive.
Then there is William Henry, Robert’s best friend. They did everything together—until the summer of 1859. That’s when Robert realizes William Henry knows more about these late night mysteries than he does. It’s also when Robert is told that William Henry is less than human . . . because he is black.
Now Robert must decide for himself where he stands on slavery. With his loved ones pitted against each other, he struggles to understand justice and wonders how high a price he is willing to pay for it.
And then he gets the chance to find out.

My thoughts:

I have always held a fascination for the enormous amount of information available in regard to the (US) Civil war era. Diaries, letters, photos and all sorts of factual reports have emerged giving us a better understanding to life in those times. 
Cathy Gohlke chose 1859 as the setting for her first 'Civil War Series' novel 'William Is A Fine Name' bringing to readers a tale which can only be termed as brilliant. It appears many thought the same since this talented author received a Christy Award!

Thirteen year old Robert and freed slave William Henry live in two very different world yet a precious friendship ties them together. Robert's father is involved in the Underground Railway whilst his mother, the daughter of a plantation and slaves owner objects bitterly at the risk her husband takes for others. 
When her ailing father requests her presence she takes Robert to the plantation where the full realization of what slavery is all about hits the young man fiercely. He now understands why his father undertakes so many risks.
This is a story of one young man's stand, the sacrifices he makes to do what is right, a story of courage, of believing in others despite the risks and placing one's trust in the Almighty!

Robert is certainly the most interesting Civil war era character I have read about. Allow me to share the author's fine tuned thoughts of this young man...

"Sleepy Summer sound of wood thrushes and night owls drifted low on the evening breeze. A Carolina wren sang its lullaby. I stretched long on the hearth rug, my hands locked behind my head, and stared up into the beams of the ceiling. Pa tamped his pipe, lifted his heavy bible off the shelf and sat down by the west window so the light could find his page.
I never minded the evening read. I loved the music in Pa's voice when he took the Book. Words didn't sit still on the page in black, block letters for him like they did for me. They leaped into the night sky, casting shadows among the fire dancers, conjuring battles and bloody sacrifices. Long treacherous journey, spoils of war and riches beyond anything I could imagine in daylight played through the air while Pa read.
When he read Solomon, I loved a woman with my whole heart and soul, even though I'd not raised my eyes to a girl in town. In Acts, I believed myself in far-off Jerusalem, breathless from the heat of the mob and bruised by the sharp edges of rocks that stoned Stephen. I lay limp on the floor when the lifeblood and water dripped out of Jesus on the cross.
Some place deep inside me cried over the tenderness of an Almighty God who counts the hairs of my head precious and keep track of each sparrow, who would search  night and day until He found a lone, lost lamb, intent on returning it to the fold...
...When Pa read, I saw a God of peace and mercy, grieved by war and one man's meanness to another. It seemed to me a great, long journal written since the beginning of time,, and in it I could learn, little by little, the secrets of life."

There is precious little a reviewer could possibly offer to readers as a recommendation to read such book but the words of the author herself which is why I chose to share my favourite segment.

'William Henry is a Fine Name' is the most powerfully written work of young adult fiction I have had the opportunity to read in a while. A big thank you to Carla Stewart for her recommendation! I would not have wanted to miss this one for anything in the world!

Cathy Gohlke writes with her whole heart and faith and her excellent penmanship will reach out to anyone! This is a story that should be required reading for the younger generation but also for adults as a reminder of what evil slavery truly is (yes IS, NOT WAS!).

Be sure to read the continuation in 'I Have Seen Him In The Watchfires. Book # 2 in her 'Civil War Series'!

5 Stars as there are no higher rating!! 

About the Author:

'Cathy’s passion for people and the journeys that shape their lives make her a natural storyteller.'
And what a storyteller! 
For more on this talented writer visit her website (here).

Note to readers: 
Just a reminder of course: I was not asked to review this book and only wished to share my opinion!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Noelle~
    You write such wonderful reviews!! Maybe you should be a writer! I am in awe of how many books you get read! You go girl! I adore books. Today I was in a consignment shop and picked up an old book and I loved the smell. Ummm...


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