3 out of 4 stars
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It is in the year 1846 in Equality, Gallatin County, Illinois. John Hart Crenshaw is with his wife Francine Taylor Crenshaw in their house at Hickory Hill ranting about the taxes on the salt mines. Patsy is a housemaid and has been serving the Crenshaws for a long time. Her twin daughters, Beulah and Betsy, disappear, and there is no trace of them. Elias is a leased slave working for Mr. Crenshaw. John thinks Elias would have made an excellent overseer, but his skin color prevents him from rising above the current position. It is a world where the color of your skin determines how high you can rise. This is a story about Michael Kelly Lawler, John’s son-in-law, and Devlin, an Irish immigrant as well. John despises Michael for his beliefs and for sharing business information with his wife, Elizabeth. Devlin is about to play an important role in a grand and dangerous escape.
Salt of the Earth was authored by Mark Allan Johnson. The book is 327 pages long. It is a forthcoming tale about slavery and the Underground Railroad Network. One will discover both the most pleasant and ugliest demonstrations of human nature here. Many themes, like selflessness, cruelty, courage, betrayal, and war, were interwoven to form a captivating story. The book was amazing down to the last page, and there is nothing I disliked about it. I never felt like putting it down.
The book’s focus on the devastating effect of racial bigotry and slavery on individuals and families enabled me to comprehend their agonies. I was not reading about the general impact of these retrogressive ways, but the pain of a mother whose children were abducted and sold into slavery. One thing that many readers will undoubtedly battle with is the moral dilemma the slaves faced daily. On one side, they earnestly desired to be free, as they had heard that God had created all men equal. However, their preachers and owners repeatedly informed them that slaves were to obey their masters. In the fullness of time, the twisting of scriptures to support the brutal and unjust institution worked.
This is a remarkable book, and I sincerely enjoyed reading it. What I liked most was the poignant portrayal of the plight of slaves. Despite some states abolishing slavery, fugitives wandered without finding a home. The situation was so dreadful that one character, Josiah, remarked, “Bosses might not all look alike, but they do act the same.” There was no difference between the courageous and the cowardly as all had to wear subservience like a robe. Though this is a fictional account, I honestly believe it gave a face to the extensive effects of slavery. Nothing beats the incredible feeling one experiences while reading a historical fiction book that sounds realistic and believable.
The other thing I liked about the book is that it demonstrated that as long as there is hope, anything is possible. It was clear that people, regardless of their identities, could join hands to champion a worthy cause. The question was whether the freed would find a home and thus lead to the success of abolitionism. The Underground Railroad Network was another interesting theme in the book. Its organization and execution of plans were brilliant. There were unforeseen circumstances, though, that could alter the trajectory of the story. The numerous twists and turns made my reading experience thrilling. There was a big revelation at the end that completely altered how I had viewed most of the story. It appears the author saved the biggest shocker for the concluding chapter.
I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars owing to the grammatical errors I discovered. I recommend it to all readers of historical fiction. It is for everyone who enjoys books where the author creates characters and allows them to recount their stories. It is for anyone who would like to visit the slavery age. Readers should be aware the book contains a few swearwords.
Salt of the Earth
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