Sunday, January 22, 2006
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue
Lester, Julius. 2005. DAY OF TEARS: A NOVEL IN DIALOGUE. New York: Jump at the Sun. ISBN 0786804904 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-10]
“Will said the rain started up just when the selling began.
I ain’t never seen a rain like this.
Will said, “This ain’t rain. This is God’s tears.”
Through the opening monologue, Julius Lester has drawn readers into a time in American history that was brutal and unforgettable. The “Weeping Time” was known as the largest auction of slaves ever which took place in Savannah, Georgia. During this two-day event on March 3 and 4 in 1859, over four hundred slaves owned by Pierce Butler were sold. The author has drawn upon numerous accounts to produce a novel that transcends time and humanity in describing these events.
This exceptional novel is told in dialogue and through individual monologues. The book introduces Pierce Butler, his ex-wife Fanny Kemble who happens to be an abolitionist, and their two daughters Sarah and Frances. The center of the novel is a fictional character, Emma, who cares for the daughters and has been promised not to be sold. The master breaks his word and in doing so starts a chain reaction of utter self destruction. The text is easy to read and flows adequately throughout the pages. Different typefonts distinguish whether the dialogue is in the past or present, and whether memories are being shared. It is interesting to see how the characters evolve from this tragedy. Readers will be thrown into the shoes of the characters and want justice for those whose lives were torn apart.
Sections of the novel could be read aloud as a reader’s theatre production.
Readers could construct a mock trial to debate for and against the use of slaves.
Other books about heroic character(s) during slavery:
Lyons, Mary E. LETTERS FROM A SLAVE GIRL: THE STORY OF HARRIET JACOBS. ISBN 0689800150
Mosley, Walter. 47. ISBN 0316110353
Paulsen, Gary. NIGHTJOHN. ISBN 0440219361
Other books by Lester that could be compared to this one:
THE OLD AFRICAN. ISBN 0803725647
TO BE A SLAVE. ISBN 0141310014
By Aundrea L. Wright