CROSSING EBENEZER CREEK by Tonya Bolden, Bloomsbury USA Childrens, May 30, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
Tonya Bolden’s Crossing Ebenezer Creek is a Civil War story that will stay with you long after you read it.
It opens the day Mariah and her younger brother, Zeke, are freed from slavery. Mariah has been waiting and planning for this day for a long time. And when the time comes, she wastes no time gathering their things and joining Sherman’s march through Georgia.
With the help of Caleb, a free black man who works for one of the generals, Mariah begins to see the possibilities of the future. But even as she begins to dream, Mariah is reminded of the brutalities of slavery. Everyone has scars — visual and hidden — and not all Yankees thinks slaves should be free.
As the army marches toward Ebenezer Creek, it becomes clear that emancipation doesn’t always mean freedom.
Prior to reading Crossing Ebenezer Creek I had never heard of the tragedy at Ebenezer Creek during which hundreds of freed slaves drowned trying to escape the confederate cavalry.
Author Tonya Bolden brings the events leading up to the tragedy to the fore in vivid detail. Her haunting prose immediately draws you in. Mariah and Caleb’s experiences, though fictional, are based on truth, and the rawness in which their stories unfold demands you keep reading.
Crossing Ebenezer Creek is hard to read. Stories like this often are. But it’s well-worth reading more than once.
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