Crossing Ebenezer Creek

Tonya Bolden

Book - 2017

Freed from slavery, Mariah and her young brother Zeke join Sherman's march through Georgia, where Mariah meets a free black named Caleb and dares to imagine the possibility of true love, but hope can come at a cost.

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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Bolden Tonya Checked In
Romance fiction
New York : Bloomsbury 2017.
Main Author
Tonya Bolden (author)
Physical Description
230 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Award-winning Bolden's latest takes readers back to 1864, the waning days of the Civil War. In rural Georgia, recently emancipated Mariah hides in the root cellar when Sherman's troops sweep into town. Joining the march, she meets Caleb, a young black man whose manner of dress and comfort with the white Union soldiers raises an eyebrow among Mariah and other formerly enslaved people. As they march toward Ebenezer Creek, Caleb develops feelings for Mariah, while she struggles to believe in her newfound freedom and plan for a future for herself and her younger brother, Zeke. Caleb and Mariah both harbor secrets and pasts that shape their worldviews, but they're starting to warm to each other when the unthinkable happens. Chapters alternating between Mariah's and Caleb's points-of-view lay bare the differences between the experiences of a free black man and those of an enslaved woman. Caleb's journal entries, for instance, signal a desire to publish or own a newspaper, while enraged Mariah laments, colored lives don't matter. With keen insight, Bolden mines a lesser-known historical event and brings the human cost vividly to life. In particular, the moment when the freed men and women are abandoned by the creek as Confederate forces descend will surprise and horrify many readers. Bolden's trenchant, powerful novel is a strong testament to the many lost lives that certainly did and still do matter.--Barnes, Jennifer Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Since the start of the Civil War, Mariah has dreamed of a Yankee victory that will grant her and her fellow enslaved men, women, and children their freedom. After Union soldiers show up to loot her Georgia plantation in November 1864, she, her younger brother Zeke, and many others join the 14th Army Corps of the left wing of General Sherman's army as it marches through Georgia. When a kind black man named Caleb invites her and Zeke to ride in his wagon, Mariah-generous hearted herself-accepts, bringing along a traumatized woman who cannot care for herself. The attraction between Caleb and Mariah is allowed to grow slowly and quietly, expressed only in each one's thoughts, over 12 days on the march. Readers learn, along with Mariah, about the war through Caleb's stories; the close-knit ties among the formerly enslaved members of the company are depicted through their experiences on the march, while the trials of their daily lives are revealed through Mariah's mostly silent memories. Bolden (Capital Days) bravely concludes this concise, moving story with a historically accurate and horrifying ending. Ages 13-up. Agent: Jennifer Lyons, Lyons Literary. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-In 1864, teenager Mariah and the other African Americans living in slavery on her plantation are freed by Union forces and encouraged to begin following General Sherman's march through Georgia. Caleb assists Mariah as she prepares to join the march. Caleb and Mariah are immediately attracted to each other but are hesitant to express their feelings, so their relationship evolves slowly. Their pasts make trusting people difficult, and their presents make clear that freedom solves many problems but doesn't erase racism. As the march nears Savannah, travel becomes difficult and some of the Union officers start seeing those following their march as a liability. The resulting tragedy at Ebenezer Creek has largely been forgotten but is retold here as a powerful message to present-day readers. The refrain "colored lives don't matter" creates resonance with current events. This phrase is backed up by discussion of overt violence against the African American characters (including rape). The author is known primarily as a writer of nonfiction, and her skills as a researcher enhance a subject for which there is limited source material. The well-executed premise, a compelling love story, and unique historical details will appeal to fans of Ruta Sepetys's Salt to the Sea. VERDICT This moving and engrossing portrayal of a little-known historical tragedy belongs on all YA shelves.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

In fall 1864, Mariah is liberated from slavery along with her little brother and joins Sherman's March to the Sea. She wants nothing more than an acre of her own ground--until she meets Caleb. Alternating between Mariah's and Caleb's perspectives, Bolden fleshes out a harrowing historical betrayal, weaving an unforgettable story. An author's note tells more about the drownings and massacre at Ebenezer Creek. Bib. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A newly emancipated young woman finds love and tragedy as she marches to freedom during the Civil WarWhen Union soldiers suddenly arrive declaring emancipation, Mariah quickly gathers a few belongings and sets off with her younger brother Zeke and members of their chosen family, a "family forced and forged under slavery's brutal reign," as blood relatives were sold, hired out, or killed. On the day Mariah and her loved ones are freed, they join Sherman's march through Georgia, and she meets Caleb, a young man on the march. Mariah and Caleb are drawn to each other, but both are weighed down by the painful secrets from their pasts. As the freed men, women, and children travel closer to the promise of a new life, they face the harsh realities of the marchand the uncertainty. Mariah and Caleb's unforgettable story is everything historical fiction should be: informative, engrossing, and unflinching. In recounting the vicious treatment Mariah and others endured while enslaved, Bolden exposes the savagery of slavery. The resiliency and ingenuity of enslaved people in the face of such cruelty are also conveyed in heart-rending detail. Some readers may be shocked by the violence and exploitation formerly enslaved people also experienced at the hands of the Union soldiers charged with freeing them. A poetic, raw, and extraordinary imagining of a little-known, shameful chapter in American history. (Historical fiction. 13-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.