Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

I really wanted to like this a whole lot more than I did. It had things that I enjoy in a book: history, alternating storylines. It took place in one of my favorite areas of the world. (I fell in love with the area around Harper's Ferry back in the 1970's when my friends and I would use our weekends off to go exploring.) But it just didn't grab me. Maybe my expectations were too high. I found the modern day storyline sort of forced, the main character whiney, and the piecing together of story arcs forced. Even when she got a focus and wanted to start selling dog biscuits, it was too little, too late, for me. The story involving John Brown's daughter just didn't engage me. While there were some elements that expanded my knowledge on the subject, I found myself being put off by silly things-- abundant use of exclamation points in transcriptions of personal correspondence of Sarah Brown, the use of the initials UGRR in conversations. (Side note: I've heard “tracks” or "Freedom Trails" (the routes slaves travelled when they fled); “stations” (hiding places); “conductors” (guides on the Underground Railroad); “station masters” (folks who hid the runaways in their homes). And it was through The Drinking Gourd (a wonderful book that describes how slaves used the the Big Dipper constellation and its north star, in their flight for freedom) that I introduced  my children to the Underground Railroad. But to have characters of the time period call it the UGRR struck me as modern and intrusive.

I'm dreadfully sorry, to the author and to the publisher, that I can't give this book a three star rating. I could go as high as 2.5/5. I know I'm in the minority, so if you're thinking of reading this book, rest assured there are far more reviewers who read it and liked it. Thank you to Blogging for Books and the publisher for sending this to me. Thank you to Blogging for Books and the publisher for sending this to me. Had you not sent it, and I just picked it up elsewhere, I would have set it down uncompleted. As it was, I now have a dog biscuit recipe to share with my friends who are doggy parents, should they wish.


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