The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize” stamp right on the front of this one, plus the fact it’s a National Book Award winner, plus all the reviews and accolades it’s received basically tell you all you need to know.

This is a must-read book. You must read this book. Must. Read.

My wife Abby and I both loved it. The Underground Railroad is magnificent. Must. Read.

I thought, from the description, there would be a little fantasy in this novel...maybe even a touch of magic. Because when I envisioned the underground railroad as a “real” train with engines and cars and tracks and stations and the whole bit--I definitely brought some slightly whimsical imagination to that thought. But this book is much more rooted in reality than I expected and it has deep, lasting impact. Yes the railroad is an actual train, but it’s only a small part of this novel.

The Underground Railroad puts you in the shoes, or rather makes you wear her bare feet, of a young slave named Cora. She endures the horrors of a plantation, runs, gets help, loses help, suffers tragedy, and presses on as best she can. And it’s all beautifully written and heart-wrenching. The one thing I kept feeling as I read was an overwhelming sense of dread. At every page turn, I expected something terrible to happen. That sounds like a bad way to go through a book right? It’s not. It’s real feeling. Real emotion. REAL connection to the characters, the words, and the story.

There is hope though too. Never lose hope.

The Underground Railroad is a bit vicious as well, so be prepared. Mr. Whitehead lets us know how it was. And if you’ve willingly or unwillingly tried, over time, to shield yourself from the reality of slavery, this is the book that will take that shield down. Read what happened to these human beings, these people, these children, these men, these women. Read how they were treated. Understand them, and you may better understand what’s going on around us NOW.

For this makes a truly outstanding book: entertaining, disturbing, thought-provoking, long-lasting impact, emotional, hopeful, and expertly-written. The Underground Railroad is a MUST READ. I just recently bought a hardcover copy of it, even though we already own a paperback, in order to give it to somebody. I don’t yet know who--but I’m confident whoever gets it will be changed by Cora’s story in this book. As I’m sure you will be too.

Again, it must be mentioned that Mr. Whitehead pulls no punches when painting a clear picture of the brutality of slavery. Definitely for mature high schoolers and adults. It’s not quite as disturbing as a gory Quentin Tarantino film, but it will stick with you and you will learn.

Just know that the hype is real and all the credit this book has is justified. So go get it!