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My Jim

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  405 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
"A deeply moving recasting of one of the most controversial characters in American literature, Huckleberry Finn's Jim"
Written in the great literary tradition of novels of American slavery, "My Jim" is told in the incantatory voice of Sadie Watson, an ex-slave who schools her granddaughter with lessons of love she learned in bondage. To help her granddaughter confront the
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published January 11th 2005 by Crown (first published 2005)
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Nov 22, 2008 Abby rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who live in Seattle
Recommended to Abby by: Washington Center for the Book
Despite the title, this book isn't really about Jim (the runaway slave from Mark Twain's classic, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). The narrator, Sadie Watson, is Jim's wife, and while she recounts the story of their courtship, marriage, and separation, the book is really about the inhumanity of slavery and its cruel impact on black American families before, during, and after the Civil War.

While I applaud Rawles' effort to place Jim and Sadie's stories in a broader, more historically accurate co
Jul 11, 2009 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is a way to destroy your faith in humanity...first read a book about WWII and the Nazi occupation, and then read one about slavery in the U.S. Nice.

This was a beautifully written book accounting the life of the wife of Huckleberry Finn's Jim. The writing style is as if her slightly educated granddaughter is writing the novel, so it takes a bit of getting used to (very little punctuation, misspelled words, slang, etc.) but it really pulls you into the time period. I guess even though it is
Larry Abrams
Incredibly satisfying book! This is a must-read for those who love The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and for people interested in learning about the horrors inflicted upon American slaves. I put it in a league with Twelve Years a Slave, a book that I think was better than the movie!
Apr 02, 2009 Jeanne rated it really liked it
I saw this book being the Seattle Reads selection and got it from my local library to read. It's a very honest story about survival and the power of love. Sadie, the narrator of the book, has some very simple things from her history that she managed to hold on to that she uses to tell her granddaughter her experiences in trying to help her with a difficult decision. It's powerful how the author uses something as simple as a piece of a wooden bowl to not only carry so much history but also give S ...more
Jim of the title is based on the character of Jim from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. My Jim is actually the life story of Jim’s wife Sadie, as told to her granddaughter in the early post-slavery years. As both a reader and an aspiring writer, I gained a great deal of respect and admiration for Nancy Rawles as I read her beautifully crafted and meticulously researched third novel. I was reminded of the great power of historical fiction as I cried through the last 15 pages of the book. It re ...more
Jul 01, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of 'Seattle Reads' sponsored by the public library. The book is narrative with the accent of the story-teller strongly presented. This may put some off, I found the effect a little distracting until I adjusted to it.

The story line is great. What happened to those whom Jim loved when he lit out with Huck? What is their story?

What is the story of sundered love and deep loss for a people as experienced through the eyes of a young woman who lives the massive change that takes pla
Bookmarks Magazine

Although Mark Twain never mentioned Jim's wife by name in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, award-winning playwright and novelist Rawles gives Sadie a tale "as heart-wrenching a personal history as any recorded in American literature" (New York Times). Here, the subtext of slavery that lingers behind Twain's classic is given full due, and it is appalling in its near unspeakable details about slave life. Critics were universally moved by Sadie's short story, and praise the author's pitch-perfec

Apr 09, 2013 Kristin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, bookclub
Writing: 3
Story: 3
Satisfaction: 2

Maybe not the best book to pick up after The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. With the world immersive dialogue of Mark Twain still lingering, Rawles's My Jim feels inauthentic and almost sterile in comparison. Knowing that her dialogue was going to be compared to that of Twain, I can't help but wonder why Rawles chooses to have her characters speak is a less slang heavy way.

My Jim is conceptually interesting but it honestly could have been about any other individ
Sep 30, 2007 Janis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in love stories and slave narratives
Wow! This book is written in a prose that aims to take its reader back to the days just after slavery. It is beautiful and without even knowing it found myself near tears at the lushness and heartbreak that the author invokes in the telling of a love story that is wrapped in a slave narrative.

It is the untold story of Jim the charater from Huckleberry Finn. While in that book Jim seems only there to serve the interests and world view of Huck, this book brings Jim (and the wife and family that a
Jun 14, 2009 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is actually about Jim's wife, Sadie. It is written such that it felt as though Sadie was telling me her life story while in slavery and then during Reconstruction. It is full of struggles, sadness and disappointments, but the voice of Sadie offers dignity and hope for future generations.
Aug 21, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Should be required reading alongside Huck Finn.
Apr 09, 2013 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly remarkable accomplishment. A voice-filled, compelling, female look at the Twain classics.
Ron Charles
Dec 04, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" started offending people even before it was released. At the printer, somebody noticed that in one illustration, Silas Phelps is exposing himself to Huck. That near disaster was expensively corrected, but all the cutting and pasting weren't enough to save the novel from condemnation. The Concord Library in Massachusetts immediately banned it, and it's been banned in some places - often in many places - ever since.

The original objections to this "veriest trash
My Jim is inspired by the character Jim in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Although it is inspired by Jim, the novel tells the story of Sadie, Jim's wife. The story is told in the first person using colloquial dialog. Sadie's granddaughter is about to set off on her grown up life away from her grandmother and Sadie has finally decided to tell her story. Sadie and her granddaughter make a memory quilt while Sadie tells the young woman about the people she loved and incorporates objects that remind ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Patrick rated it really liked it
p.15 Life just mean thats all.
p.23 But my Jim a seer. Thats how he make it back alive.
p.25 Life a bloody business gal. Better get used to it.
p.28 Mama say Jim aint regular. He got that forward and backward at the same time.
p.121 They in hell and they worry about going to hell.
p.140 Just I gots to keep living just to see when thing gonna change.

My Jim would be an excellent supplemental text for Huck Finn. The text presents the backstory of Jim from Huck Finn. We receive the story through the eyes
Fionna Guillaume
From the first page, this novel transports you into a world many of us have never been immersed in: the world of slaves in the South, just before, during, and soon after the Civil War. It is a world whose barbarities are told in the spare, direct spoken-word style of the narrator, an old grandmother (and former slave) sharing her history with her freeborn granddaughter, Marianne Libre. Each story is woven around an object in her jar of worldly possessions, small, insignificant things; a hat, a b ...more
Mark Valentine
Mar 12, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Notes on my 2nd reading of this novel: I let time settle and I took more time reading it and it has rewarded my experience. I definitely see the merit, the power of the narratives, and the deep sadness in Sadie Watson, Jim's wife. I saw traces of Twain in it (Twain's short story, "A True Story" is repeated here and it is just as moving as Twain's original and then the cut chapter from Huckleberry Finn in which Jim relates his 'ghost' story to Huck--cut from chapter 9 of that novel--also appears) ...more
Apr 25, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sadie, a former slave, shares stores of the love of her life in order to help her granddaughter make decisions about marriage in this powerful, sweet, brutal, dialectically-written history.

This book is powerful because it is a first-person account. Seeing and feeling life through Sadie's eyes, a slaves eyes, is no easy thing. She cures the sick and even the white folks when their doctor can't help. She helps babies come, even though she knows the world they're being born into is no world for any
Sadie Watson shares with her granddaughter the tales of her life during slavery convince her to go with her heart and find love.

My Jim is a heart wrenching novel about the life of Sadie. Sadie being born during slavery has worked from the moment she was old enough to walk. Having a healer as a mother Sadie kept the traditions live which later caused her to be called a witch and separated from her fellow slaves.

Sadie shares her compelling love story of how she meat her husband Jim and of their
Dec 07, 2009 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really powerful and moving novel, really well written and an engrossing (if emotionally difficult) read. Although it only tangentially referenced Huckleberry Finn, I loved the fact that this book was illuminating an untold story behind a character that some have seen as two-dimensional and stereotyped. (I haven't read Huck Finn since 7th grade so I can't weigh in on that.) If you're really into Huck Finn, you will probably be disappointed by how little the original text is referenced. ...more
Feb 25, 2009 Misty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
'My Jim' is being read by Seattle Reads this year. I chose it thinking I might like to select it for my book club choice. Even though I liked it enough, I am not using it as my selection. We just finished the Heretic's Daughter which was sad and this one is also very very sad.

The beginning was captivating but a little difficult to begin as the language of the slaves is so foreign. The book is rich with descriptions of experiences, thoughts, feelings, and the time and place. It was a real eye ope
Oct 04, 2013 Tucker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is such a brutal, grinding portrayal of American slavery. Nothing in tone or plot connected it to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for me (it's framed as a prequel), other than it was a very contemporary and lucid look at slavery, perhaps looking to supplant the more quaint and hypothetical sketches white America has made.

I came to this book equating American slavery with hard work in the hot sun accompanied by whippings. I left equating American slavery with the systemic rape of wom
Jul 25, 2014 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh wow! I so love this book. I finished reading it several days ago and I don't want to read another book for a while because I want the characters and the story to stay with me and settle before I venture back out to the world of other reading. The voice of Sadie, our narrator, rings so honest and true--she pulls me in--all the way in. Of course the novel deals with the heartbreak and injustice of slavery, but it more importantly deals with the gross brutality and the inhumanity suffered and so ...more
May 31, 2010 Chana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My response to this book is mostly emotional, mostly anger and disgust that any human beings could treat other human beings like this! This is what I wrote in answer to where are you and when on the bookcrosssing forums: Mas Steven's tobacco plantation getting the hell beat out of me on a regular basis, starving, separated from my kids, and seeing my daughter in danger of rape. This reader is wanting to go back in time and commit some brutality of her own on the slave owners! Wishing for the era ...more
Jan 26, 2016 Eliece rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told entirely in dialect, this first-person narrative features Sadie, a slave emancipated during the Civil War. While making a quilt with her granddaughter who was born free, and is trying to decide whether to marry and move West, Sadie is inspired to tell the story of her own separation and loss.
In particular, Sadie recalls her husband, Jim, and their two children. Jim was sold away and later escaped to freedom with none other than Huckleberry Finn (a detail that is not further developed.) As S
Feb 04, 2016 Salsabrarian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, audiobook, slavery
Narrated by Lizzie Cooper Davis and Brenda Pressley. It's 1884 and Sadie relates to her granddaughter the story of Jim, the love of her life, and how she was present at his birth as a little girl and later, as his wife, missed the opportunity to escape with him. A haunting story about slavery, the loss of loved ones and the ache and loss of true love. The audio presentation is particularly effective; I don't recall which woman reads Sadie but she voices her story with the regret and resignation ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
Oct 31, 2008 Sherry (sethurner) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"Chas Freeman ask me to marry him." That's the opening line of My Jim.

This slender novel is written in the voice of Sadie Watson, ex-slave, telling the story of her life to her granddaughter, Marianne Libre. It's a small book, only 161 pages, but filled with sorrow and love. Sadie is the wife of Jim, the runaway slave from Huckleberry Finn, and while he is the love of her life, much of that life is spent away from him. While I was captivated by Sadie's story, was interested in her ways of surviv
May 09, 2011 Paige rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All in all, pretty great.

This book is short (161 pages), and I think it's well worth the read.

I found it annoying that almost all the blurbs in the cover refer to Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn. I suppose Ms. Rawles was inviting these kinds of comparisons herself. However, the connection is tenuous and not really fleshed out, and I think the book is all the better for it. If the narrator hadn't spelled it out that the Jim that Sadie talks about is the same Jim that travels with Huck, you wouldn
Sep 05, 2016 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told in first person dialect, this is a simple story , yet reflects the complications that were slavery. From the loss of family members and children, to daily rape and beatings, the tragedy seems to never end, yet strong men and especially strong women manage to carry on, and try to pass on hope to another generation. The wife of Jim, from Huckleberry Finn , Sadie is a healer and can heal everyone but herself. As hard to read about as the Holocaust, this example of mans inhumanity still needs t ...more
Feb 02, 2009 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is the common book for 2009 suggested by the Seattle Public Library. Rawles presents the story of Jim, Huckleberry Finn's companion. In fact, she ends up presenting Jim's wife, Sadie's, story. It was an incredibly emotional read that was difficult at times to stomach as I thought of all of the personal implications of slavery's horrors. However, it was a compelling story told in what I thought was an authentic dialect. I loved the angle she took as well - a bit like Brooks' approach ...more
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“Your mama coming back. Just cause you cant sees a person aint mean nothing. They still there. You worry you never gonna find your mama but she gonna come to you. Close your eyes. I bets you see her good.” 1 likes
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