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North by Night: A Story of the Underground Railroad
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North by Night: A Story of the Underground Railroad

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  602 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
It's 1851 and Lucy Spencer's family is keeping a secret. Their Ohio home is a station on the Underground Railroad, the network of people and places that helps fugitive slaves escape to freedom in Canada. Lucy believes in what she and her family do to help the fugitives, even if it means putting herself in danger.

So Lucy doesn't hesitate when she is asked to stay with the W
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 11th 2000 by Yearling (first published 1998)
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Grace Charron yeah, i started reading this book and thought it was going to be boring, but it turned out to be pretty interesting and heart breaking.

Community Reviews

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Jan 21, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Written in Diary format, this book gives the eye view of a young girl learning that law is not necessarily right, and dealing with the conflict of feelings between love and helping those who need her.

This was a book I read when I was in elementary school, and I certainly recommend it to any girl of that age. The writing is simple and easy to understand, and overall PG while teaching valuable lessons in equality. It got me interested in a topic I otherwise find rather boring. Unfortunatly trying
C.P. Cabaniss
Jul 08, 2012 C.P. Cabaniss rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Yet another re-read of this favorite from my teenage years. The story centers around Lucy (it's her diary), a 16 year old girl who believes and freedom and works with her parents on the underground railroad to help runaway slaves. While Lucy can be irksome at times, her story is interesting and her love life no less so. Jeremiah Strong is just the type of man we all hope for and another boy in the story (won't say names here) is just the type we all cringe around and try to avoid. While I was no ...more
Amanda G. Stevens
Jan 01, 2014 Amanda G. Stevens rated it it was ok
What a confusing book. Its length is typical of middle-grade (175 pages), and protagonist Lucy behaves like a typical twelve-year-old. The problem: Lucy is actually sixteen. She's caught in a love triangle and will have to choose between her suitors (and marry one of them) fairly soon, and yes, her dithering composes a large portion of the story.

Modern ideologies, especially the stereotypical Independent Woman Ahead of Her Time, creep into this historical novel rather often. The moralizing is he
Ms. A.
Oct 30, 2013 Ms. A. rated it it was ok
Great book on the surface. It is well written, easy to read, contains legitimate history, and is heartfelt. I even really began to like Lucy and could understand her youthful love triangle and angst.
My issue is one that any ally would have: the same old story about the white savior. The white privilege oozing from the pages can not be ignored, in fact while William Lloyd Garrison gets a mention no real black abolitionists do.
It is not that I didn't enjoy the book because I did. It is just that I
Apr 12, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
Not my favorite, Also read this with Sadie for literature circle. They tried to make this a love story and the underground railroad. My girls are 11 and not into the love note thing. Only 1 out of 8 in my group even wanted anything to do with that. Brings up the concept of rape and I didn't go into detail in the group discussion about slavery and the owners raping their slaves. luckily none of them really caught on. Mentioned to the teacher who will not be doing this book again next year. Most t ...more
Jarrett Bell
What a confusing book. It is written in diary format, but constantly switches between narration, diaries, and letters, often with 90's girl giggles about different boys that don't really seem to fit 19th century Quaker realities. However, provides a nice backdrop to the life of those who harbored the "Canadian Geese" during the 1850's time of the Fugitive slave laws.
Nov 12, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
REALLY like this book. It was about the life of a young woman who worked at a stop on the underground railroad, but it was so well written that you forgot it was a historical book, and got really involved with the characters. I was really impressed with the author's writing style. All in all it was a great way to pass the time while waiting in line for the H1N1 vaccine.
Apr 05, 2017 Amy rated it liked it
I really love historical fiction -it is my favorite genre. I bought this on vacation for my daughter to read, but it looked good so I decided to read it. The story is told through a series of journal entries and letters written by the main character Lucinda. I was hooked from the beginning where she and her family help to hide some runaway slaves as part of the underground railroad. Lucinda is 16 and boy crazy, and a large part of this book is about a love triangle involving Lucinda and two boys ...more
Elizabeth Dyck
This book was really interesting. The diary/journal layout is wonderful. Lucy Spencer is sixteen and a big helper in and supporter of the Underground Railrod. The Canadian Geese, the secret code for runaway slaves, are migratong contimually. Though they are never sure when to expect some slaves a their door, they are always ready. One slave Lucy meets is Cass, a pregnant woman. They become close friends as the day draws nearer for Cass to deliver her baby. While they are waiting for the babe to ...more
Jan 20, 2017 Amara rated it liked it
Lucy Spencer and her family are helpers of he Underground Railroad. At night, she stays up and waits for anybody to come knock on her door and say, "I am a Friend with a Friend." But her life gets turned upside down when she and Widow Mercer have to care for 10 runaway slaves, one of them nearing the end of her pregnancy. But when the slave owner comes into town looking for 10 of his slaves, Lucy has to conceal the slaves as well as she can. That's not all, Lucy is having some trouble with 2 boy ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Sydney rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
the only thing keeping me from giving this book 5 stars is the very abrupt ending and the romance in this book. But other than that this book was great.

It is one of those books that when you get to the end you are wondering how everything that needs to happen will fit into the last few pages. and I think there needs to be another book after this. I just wasn't ready for it to end.

Jan 21, 2016 Martina rated it it was amazing
I always love historical fiction, so this book was no different. It is a story of a young girl whose family works with the Underground Railroad. It takes place in Ohio, so the places referenced in the book were very familiar to me. The story especially speeds up toward the end and is fairly exciting. It was a good book with a lot of good historical information and I enjoyed it.
Becca Kirkman
May 13, 2010 Becca Kirkman rated it really liked it
It is a good short read. I first I thought it was too much teenager drama, but evens out. It was an amazing story of a young girl coming to age in the Civil War. The main character is Lucy who helps her family aid the runaways on the Underground railroad. She found out what she really believes and makes huge sacrifices for the cause of freedom.
Following my daughter around the rows in the library I picked this one up for myself in the teen/young adult section. This was great tale of how white families were in just as much danger for helping slaves get to freedom. This is the story of the ultimate price one slave gave and the white girl who gave up her family in ohio to save a slave baby.
Jun 02, 2013 Mayuri rated it did not like it
I am doing a book report on this book and I just finished reading it. Really boring an there are so many things wrong with this book. The way the character feels and everything. The only character I liked died and the book left you hanging in a weird place. I LOVE READING, BUT THIS BOOK WAS NOT FOR ME!!
Ellie  Dynek
Jan 03, 2014 Ellie Dynek rated it really liked it
I was blown away by the descriptions and vivid historical imagery of this story. Katherine Ayres did a fantastic job capturing the journey of a young girl as she steps away from the comforts of home and hearth in order to try and do right by slaves traveling to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
Dec 24, 2010 Chelly rated it really liked it
This book was really sad and shocking while also being readable (as in, not so heavy that you can't continue, but not so light that you forget what you're reading); it incorperates "normal life" with the insane concept of saving (or attempting to) the lives of other people. The MC was great- a true heroine. I would definately recommend reading this.
Jul 16, 2013 Diana rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. I think the author did a wonderful job developing well thought out characters, and likable characters as well. I think the book is a gentle version of what life was like, but with enough truth to make it believable.
Laurie D'ghent
Jul 17, 2014 Laurie D'ghent rated it it was amazing
An outstanding book. Deals with some of the heavy issues connected with slavery without getting graphic or inappropriate. That being said, I still wouldn't recommend it for elementary students. No swearing.
Feb 23, 2015 R rated it liked it
Perhaps a little too serious for its intended audience, but an enjoyable and seemingly historically-accurate read none the less.
was a good read im sad cass died tho.she will neva get to know her baby
Good book about Slavery, Family and youth.
I like the Katherine Ayres writes and leads one through a story.
Jul 03, 2013 Karen rated it liked it
While I found this a sweet story, I didn't feel it had the depth it could have had! It was rather simplistic with not a lot to offer!
This book differs from many underground railroad stories in that it depicts the real danger and devistation faced by those who put their lives and fortunes on the line to help the escaping slaves.
Jan 18, 2013 Yzzy rated it really liked it
I read this book in middle school and I absolutely loved it. I'm hoping to read it again in the future.
Apr 19, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
Another favorite from childhood. The main character is very brave. A lot of history and a sweet, clean romance as well.
Kerri Coleman
May 22, 2014 Kerri Coleman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


I had to read it for school it was good and educational. My words to the other bravo bravo good job.
Apr 07, 2010 Lynn added it
I realy liked it. Its intreging
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The Young Adult H...: North by Night by Katherine Ayres - September's Group Read 8 14 Sep 17, 2014 05:18PM  
North by Night 2 8 Jun 08, 2012 10:07AM  
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Katherine Ayres is the author of ten books for children and teenagers. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA where she teaches writing to graduate students and Chatham University.

At age 19 she appeared on the TV show, To Tell the Truth--as a liar. "It was good practice for becoming a fiction writer," she says. "These days I have to make up stuff all the time. And I like it!"

Then, as now, Ayres was a convin
More about Katherine Ayres...

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