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Day of Tears
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Day of Tears

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,991 ratings  ·  378 reviews

On March 2 and 3, 1859, the largest auction of slaves in American history took place in Savannah, Georgia. More than 400 slaves were sold. On the first day of the auction, the skies darkened and torrential rain began falling. The rain continued throughout the two days, stopping only when the auction had ended. The simultaneity of the rain storm with the auction led to thes
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Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Jump At The Sun (first published April 14th 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Trent Fritzsche
Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a slave, or what were the conditions like they went through?

In the book "Day of tears:A Novel in Dialogue" by Julius Lester the main character Emma is going through those very problems. Emma is a 12 year old slave working at the Butler plantation. Everything was normal until the day Master Butler loses all of his money due to gambling. After that Master Butler is forced to sell all of his slaves including Emma. She was incredibly heart-broken since s
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Ch_beverlyatwood
Title: Day of Tears
Author: Julius Lester
Illustrator: None
Publisher: Jump at the Sun, Hyperion Books for Children
Year originally published: 2005
Translator (if applicable): None
Approximate Interest Level/Reading Level: 9 to 13 years
Format (picture book, audio book, book read online, chapter book/novel, graphic novel): Young Adult Chapter Book
Rating system: 5 Stars - *****
Brief summary: This interesting book written in dialogue tells about the largest slave auction ever held. The points of view are
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CH_Kathleen
I truly enjoyed reading Day of Tears. I could not put the book down. This book is based off true historical happenings of the largest slave auction held in the United States. It is interesting because it is written with each character's perspective. Emma a young slave is sold away from her family into another plantation in Kentucky. This story depicts the feeling's Emma's family and other slaves had at this time and also the feelings and thoughts of slave owners at this time. This book is wonder ...more
Christine Jensen
Approximate Interest Level/Reading Level: Junior High/High School

Format: Audio Book (Recorded Books, Unabridged)

Awards: ALSC Notable Recording (2007), Coretta Scott King Award Winner (2006)

Response: The novel is read by several narrators, both male and female, in dialects that accurately fit the characters of the story. The readers performance is dynamic, conveying the emotions and feelings of the characters in a way that truly brings them to life. The content of the novel itself also evokes a
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L11_Ryanne Szydlik
Heartfelt, tragic, eye-opening, and fast paced. Day of Tears, by Julius Lester, is a beautifully written story about an incredibly ugly time in American History. The story is written through the perspective of all the characters, mainly Emma the main link between most of the characters. Lester does this in such an effective way that there is no confusion when switching characters, but instead it builds more interest and understanding for the reader.

Through switching characters, the reader will
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Jeff Lindsey
This was a difficult book to read. Not because it was poorly written, because the writing is fantastic. It was difficult to read because of how angry it made me, and how that emotional level was kept at a fever pitch through the entire book. It was exhausting to read with that kind of internal churning. I kept asking myself how it was possible that we, as a species, can do these sort of things to one another. How we can justify the wholesale subjugation of another ace to the point that it seems ...more
Jaclyn Giordano
Day of Tears is a chapter book intended for students from grades six to nine. More specifically, it is a novel of dialogue, garnering perspectives of all characters involved in the gut-wrenching tale of one of the largest slave auctions ever held in America. I gave this book five stars. Lester dramatically intertwines internal dialogue of character’s thoughts and feelings alongside actual conversation and dialogue that keeps the action unfolding. Intermittently, the reader gets to read Interlud ...more
L11-Mary Utterback
How do I begin to reflect upon this wonderful piece of literature. This book tells the story of slavery from the perspective of the slaves, master, master's family and many more. It was a day where rain fell from the sky like it had never fallen before. The rain symbolizes the pain and heartache felt by all those involved in a massive slave trade to help clear the gambling debts of the master. It shows the relationship between the slaves and the family as it comes to an ending through greed. The ...more
Lindsey
Day of Tears in a short novel in dialogue (both thoughts and spoken words). The basis for the novel is true, and it is about America's largest slave trade ever. Some of the characters are even real people, though many of the characters are fictionalized. The dialogue is told from the point of view of 22 different characters from slaves and their families, to plantation owners and their families, an abolitionist and even the auctioneer. Part of what makes the book so intriguing is all of the vari ...more
Emma
What do you call it when you finally find a book that is so rawly written that you know you won't forget it?I think I was bawling the whole entire book! It was fantastic.
(view spoiler)
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Naomi
On March 2nd and 3rd 1859, American history was forever changed when the largest slave auction was held in Savannah,Georgia. A total of either 429 or 436 slaves were sold due to the fact that the slave owner, Mr. Pierce Butler was a gambler, and couldn't afford to pay off his debts. Though the Butler family and the slave auctioneer in the story are actual people and the story is based on historical events of that family, the writing is historical fiction. Julius Lester writes this novel in the f ...more
L-Crystal Wlodek
This chapter book about slavery is a novel in dialogue and is intended for children ages 9-12. This book accurately tells about the hardships during times of slavery by describing the biggest slave auction in American History through flashbacks, flash-forwards, in shifting first-person accounts.

The author accurately describes slavery in general and transforms what little is known about the biggest slave auction in American History into a dramatic, personal, and real work of art. The personal vo
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528_Mary F.
This is historical fiction about the biggest slave auction in American history which took place in Savannah, Georgia on Pierce Butler's plantation. It was a real life event. The author, Julius Lester, imagines the "voices" of those who were there and their experiences. There are a lot of characters who speak in the present tense. The auction and what happens afterward is not forgettable. The slave in the center of it all, Emma, works for Butler and raises his children. She is told she will never ...more
Beth
This book was written in dialogue like a play so it was very easy to read. The story is based on a day in history with a few of the characters representing actual people. The Day of Tears refers to the largest slave auction in history. March 2 and 3 1859 over 400 slaves were sold from Pierce Butler a Georgian plantation owner who had lost his fortune to gambling. The author goes between characters from present (the auction) to future (after the auction when characters are old). I can not even im ...more
Molly
This was another one that I had to read for a class. It came highly recommended, so I had high hopes.

Did not disappoint. This is one of the most poignant and uniquely structured books I have read in a while.

Day of Tears is a historical fiction novel detailing the events of March 2 and 3, 1859: the largest slave auction in American history. It follows the fictional character Emma and the people close to her: her parents, her master, her master’s children. It’s told almost completely in dialogue,
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RLL52014_KellyMcGushin Mcgushin
Day of Tears is a great book that addresses the issues of slavery. A young slave named Emma is taken from her family and sold to a plantation. It is at this plantation where she meets Joe, a close friend that helps her make her dream of freedom come true. Julius Lester is an incredible author and his writing style allows the reader to become absorbed in his story. He effectively portrays the emotions of the slaves and their masters. The dialogue between the characters, and the inner thoughts tha ...more
Rll52014_mollyharris
Julius Lester's Day of Tears tells the story of a family ripped apart by slavery. Lester based this work of historical fiction on the largest slave auction to take place in American History. The story is told from multiple viewpoints including the plantation owner, Pierce Butler, his daughters, and three generations of slaves. The protagonist is Emma, the twelve year old only child to Mattie and Will, slaves who have been with Butler since they were all children themselves. Though heartbreaking, ...more
Tyesha Barton
In "Day of Tears" by Julius Lester, it was very inspiring and fascinating. This book was based on slavery and it was told at many different point of views. The way that this novel is based on dialogue, I think that this makes it easier for the reader to understand the novel and what's going on in the story. Since the reader can see each character's point of view in the text, they are able to comprehend how each character feels about what's happening.
My favorite character was Emma. She is my fav
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Chelsiekowalski
Jun 07, 2009 Chelsiekowalski rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This book,I thought was very interesting im varous ways. I liked it bacause it went back and fourth between slavery times and the time were the slaves bacame free. This book is about sleves that live on the Butler plantation get sold into slavery. It tells their long journey to go to plantation to plantation, i don't want to say any spoilers so thats all i have to say.
Sheng Yang
This book is required in the Young Adult English course that I'm taking. The book was surprisingly good. I guess I didn't read the cover of the book close enough, when I read it, it was done in dialogue. It says so on the cover. I had a good time reading the book, it was so heart breaking for me. I would give this book to my niece, but wait a few more years before she's old enough.

I rated this book four stars, because it has taught me so much from a different perspective or point of views. Ther
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Aaron Gibson
"Day of Tears" is the first book to every make me cry (REAL TEARS!). Lester illustrates through a "novel in dialogue" (it reads like a play) the tale of the largest slave auction in history. Though fictional, Lester admits that he has taken many truths from various sources to construct this wonderful piece. Honestly, it is the saddest book I have ever read. There are few places to smile in this trouble riddled story. Told from several different accounts and a few flash-forwards, Lester tears you ...more
Whitney Summers
This book was also a required book that I read. This is a novel about slavery, but what I particularly liked about this book was the way it was told. It was almost designed like a play but also included the internal thoughts, and flashbacks/retellings of the past. This book definitely gives you a different perspective and feeling toward slavery. You ache for those who had to endure through it. I would recommend this book to anyone (meaning an older teenager/more mature teenager) who was interest ...more
Nicole Modugno
This book was not as depressing as I expected it to be. I don't mean to undermine the experience of slavery, but it was simply not as emotional as I expected it to be. After reading The Known World by Edward P. Jones, and seeing 12 Years a Slave, this is not too violent or explicit of a book. Rated: G

Having read this for a Young Adult Literature class, as a requirement, I would probably suggest this to anyone between 10-12 years old. There is much to be gained from the text through Lester's form
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Sarah Kennington
Normally, I'm hard to please when it comes to plays or scripts. I feel like it's fake when you don't have directions, descriptions of scenes, or the like. It's hard to get into. However, when reading this book, I couldn't stop. I started last night and stopped when my husband wanted to read a movie. Today, I picked it up every spare second I got and had it finished by 9:30 this morning. It was so good. I couldn't help reading the author's note, and it about broke my heart to see that it was base ...more
Sydney
This book was quite depressing. I did enjoy, however, that there was no narration and that it was mostly dialog, spoken or thought. That was an interesting spin on a novel. This story was a sad tale of how slavery separated families that then lead into a story about liberating slaves. This was an interesting insight to slavery that shows what White Supremacy is actually like.

I would recommend this book to a younger audience around the middle school years. Especially to those that are interested
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Keshav Jagannath
A really good book. It took me back to the long forgotten age of slavery in USA. It was really emotional at some stages and the writer has pictured the scene beautifully with the idea of dialogues. I
Christie
It's been three days since we've seen the sun.

In 1859, the largest slave auction in the United States took place when Pierce Butler had to sell over 400 slaves to cover gambling debts. Over the two days that the auction went on there was a torrential downpour that came to be known as "the weeping time." In this book, Julius Lester fictionalizes the events of those days and tells the stories of the slaves that were there.

I came across this book completely by accident. I was buying another book
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Dani Sorensen
This book was required for my YA lit class, so that is why I read it. I was skeptical at first because I don't usually like books relating to slavery, but I loved it.

This book is incredible. Absolutely incredible. The way that Julius Lester writes takes just a minute to get used to. He used just text, with very little description, but there was so much emotion behind it. It was hard to figure out which characters you could trust, such as the Master. This book made me want to cry. It is so beauti
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Bo Manuszak
This was an alright book. I do like the way it is written though- dialogue form (sort of like the crucible).
I do think that the story line is great. I normally dont like informational history books but this was very good since it was dialogue and not just facts being thrown at you.
In this story, the Butler Plantation holds the largest slave auction in history. During the auction, people say the rain was so hard that it is God's tears. Master Butler holds this auction because he is in debt from g
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Katy Berg
Jun 25, 2014 Katy Berg rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Katy by: librarian
This is by far one of the greatest books I've ever read. It is amazing all around and is a book I've loved for years. It's written in dialogue which is easy to read and understand and it lets you fall in love with every character. Emma is an inspiring woman and I just want to thank Julius Lester so much for creating such a beautiful work of literary art. It's so good I've read it 4 times and not for any other book have I ever done that. If you ever read only one book in your life read this. It's ...more
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The Slave Auction 1 7 Feb 04, 2013 08:50AM  
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I was born on January 27, 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri. From 1941-1954 I lived in Kansas City, Kansas, and from 1954-1961 in Nashville, Tennesse. I received a B.A. in English from Fisk University in 1960.

In 1961 I moved to New York City where I had a talk radio show on WBAI FM from 1966-1973, hosted a television talk show on WNET from 1969-1971.

Since 1968 I have published 43 books. Among the awards
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