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3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,063 Ratings  ·  210 Reviews
Walter Mosley is one of the best-known writers in America. In his first book for young adults, Mosley deftly weaves historical and speculative fiction into a powerful narrative about the nature of freedom. 47 is a young slave boy living under the watchful eye of a brutal slave master. His life seems doomed until he meets a mysterious runaway slave, Tall John. Then, 47 find ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published December 14th 2008 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published 2005)
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Jul 07, 2007 Alvina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens and adults
One of the most original books I've ever read. Combines historical fiction and science fiction. This is the first Walter Mosley book I've ever read, and I must say, he's incredible.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
man, i really liked this book. it was the first book i read since butler's kindred that combined the telling of sci-fi with historical slavery of the US. i read it in one day and felt like it was a bit unfinished, but i enjoyed it along the way immensely. i would totally recommend it to folks that like young adult sci-fi.
Dredging the archives of my old YA blog--from back in the day when I was a YA para-librarian. Awesome!

47 is a young slave on a Georgia plantation. When he is 14 years old, he is sent to work in the cotton fields, branded with the number 47, the only name he’s ever known. One day he meets Tall John, another slave boy, escaped from a nearby plantation. “I say that he was colored, but not like any Negro I’d known. His skin was the color of highly polished brass but a little darker, a little like c
Dec 26, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed much of this story but struggled with sci-fi alongside slavery. Human beings were/are quite capable of recognizing that there is no master of humans without an alien telling us so. Still, I was turning the pages wondering how Mosley would pull all the threads through the narrative.
Alexia Lewis
This story was amazing I absolutely loved it!
It was many things to me, so I will just say "Enchanting, engrossing, magnificent and necessary. A veracious account on more levels than one."
Sep 29, 2011 3MuhammadY. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about slaves and how they worked in early America. Main characters in this book are slave number 47, Tall John(12), Big mama Flore, Mud Albert,slave number 84, White master Tobias, Mr Steward. All slaves are working in Corinthian plantation in Georgia. Number 47 is the main character in this story who is 14 years old and is son of a slave woman who also worked at the plantation but died few years ago. Big mama Flore raised 47 and loved him like his own son. Tall John is a run away s ...more
Jul 03, 2008 Terry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cdcs-young-adult
Just as bad as Runner by Carl Deuker, but in completely the opposite way--this novel aims high...but falls flat. Title refers to the number branded on a young slave, unnamed, who becomes a messiah for the enslaved and takes on a supernatural being. After an initial back-story that feels more educational than real (47's mom was slaveowner's wife's favorite slave--the slaveowner hates 47 but has promised to take care of him--real stuff, shunted off to the side), the protagonist meets a runaway sla ...more
Nov 28, 2007 Kewpie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
47 is a plantation field slave, forbidden to have a name of his own -- he is simply assigned a number. He lives a life of downtrodden misery until the mysterious Tall John arrives at the plantation. He refuses to think of himself as a slave and claims that freedom comes from within. This is not a typical historic account of slavery. Tall John has a mysterious background and odd magical gadgets he carries in a carpet bag. This is a very unusual hybrid of history and science fiction. Read-alikes: ...more
CH _Kenya  Walker
Mar 10, 2010 CH _Kenya Walker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fic
47 by Walter Dean Meyer's is a gripping tale about a young slave boy whose known only as 47. He has an abusive master that keeps a close watchful eye on him making escape almost impossible. Until 47 meets a run away slave called Tall John who is as mysterious as his name. Tall John read dreams, fly between galaxies and make friends with any kind of animal. As the two becomes fast friends 47 gets wrapped up in Tall John's mysterious otherworldly activities and begins a personal pursuit of his own ...more
I'm really not sure what to make of this book. It is listed as a juvenile fiction book, but I definitely think it is more suitable for a young adult audience. There is some very graphic content. The book is about slavery, and what it truly means to be free. But, it is also a fantasy novel. I was actually really liking the story, until it got really deep into the fantasy stuff. The fantasy stuff is just confusing and weird. No other way to put it, just plain weird. However, I would recommend this ...more
Angela Sims
Sep 26, 2012 Angela Sims rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walter Mosley's depiction of slavery and a human capacity for both freedom and brutality is portrayed vividly in 47. Mosley's ability to illustrate the interconnectedness of life raises questions about the capacity of the mind to transcend conditions of a current reality in order to move towards a future that stands in stark contrast to that which is often perceived as normative. Mosley's articulation of plantation life in 1832 contradicts a belief that the lynching of blacks in mass numbers was ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Beverly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 14-16 year olds
Recommended to Beverly by: YALSA
I am not sure what to say about 47. It is a very good book, but as I read it, I kept expecting it to be better. I am a huge Walter Mosley fan, so maybe my expectations were too high. I wanted a young adult novel dealing with slavery to knock my socks off or leave me speechless. I think Mr. Mosley did a great job describing the propaganda/brainwashing that was so prevalent in the south and an even greater job of explaining how evil that kind of thinking was. I found the characters interesting but ...more
Jan 26, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I especially liked about this book was the positioning of the central character as both a person experiencing slavery and as someone who is part of a broader context and experience. Mosley weaves discussions about the meaning of freedom and humanity into a narrative that centers on a young boy's struggle for freedom from slavery but includes another story with aliens and saving the universe... The alien and his world brought me back, a bit, to the trippy aliens in another of Mosley's sci-fi ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Marie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't realize this was a YA novel when I got it based on the premise on the back - a slave on a cotton plantation in the 1830s is visited by a mysterious stranger named Tall John who has mysterious powers. And our hero lives to modern day, not aging.

Well, I was expecting more introspection from a modern standpoint and less action - I wanted Tall John to not explain himself, and Beyond Africa to remain a mystery to the reader.

Maybe I wouldn't be disappointed if I had known going in that it was
Oct 15, 2015 Amelia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really love this book. My Humanities teacher gave it to me last year, and I have read it twice since. 47 takes you on an incredible journey. You get to see what things might have been like if you were a slave,something so horrible it's hard to know what it would be like in the perspective of one. However, not everything ends up horribly for slave number 47. When Tall John comes from beyond Africa 47's world is transformed. He learns that no one actually owns anything. You don't own your body-o ...more
47 Walter Mosley Little, Brown and Company May 2005 232 pages

In 2005 Walter Mosley wrote a teen novel called 47. The novel went viral reaching teens worldwide. Informing them how life was for African Americans in the early days. Specifically for a fourteen-year-old boy named 47 in the year of 1832. He takes you on his and his friend Tall John's journey and tells you how Tall John changed his life forever.
"I lived as a slave on the Corinthian Plantation my whole life up to the time that Tall John
May 22, 2013 Madison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
While the premise seemed promising, presenting a blend of science fiction and historical fiction, the narrative doesn't quite reach a balance between the two. The writing is heart-wrenching, to be sure; you see the physical pain as well as the psychological turmoil of slavery. But, that seems much more real and developed than anything that happens Elsewhere. I don't want to give too much away, though. A good book (warning: it does use the n-word very often), but not as fleshed out as it could ha ...more
Nov 08, 2008 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gripping, bone-tingling, spellbinding story about a boy who rises out of slavery with the help of his magical, mysterious new friend. As the story progresses, he slowly tears himself away from predjudices, as well. This incredible tale is part fantasy, part historical fiction, and 100% worth reading!!!!
Rebecca Thacker
A sci-fi/fantasy, YA slave narrative. A unique telling of the High John the Conqueror tale, but a little too fantastic for me: Little beings from another planet have found on Earth (in the form of a slave, number 47) the one man who can save all the good beings of the universe from total destruction.
Jim Leckband
Aug 16, 2015 Jim Leckband rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, if this is a young adult novel, then that generation is one mighty tough generation, because this is a brutal book. Brutal but terribly true to slavery's physical and mental torture. Y'all can take that "Confederate heritage" euphemism and stick it up your euphemism, because that "heritage" is not something to be proud of.

Now, editorializing being done with, Mosley's combination of history and science fiction is like a crazy quilt, you never know when Mosley is going to dip into sci-fi to g
The preface hooked me. The story is about slavery and fantasy, slavery and folk culture, slavery and acquiring freedoms, physical, mental, and emotional.

47 narrates the tale of how he came by his freedom with the help of an oddly colored, odd-talking Negro whose favorite admonition is Neither master nor nigger be.

I want to have every soul going about with nigger on their lips to read this story. It demonstrates what thinking lies behind the word and it explores the master-slave relationship.

Alexis Celis
Sep 14, 2015 Alexis Celis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
In the book 47 (By Walter Mosley) it takes place during the age of slavery America a young boy was born a slave. Slaves didn’t usually get names back then, only numbers and this slave’s number was 47. He grew up like a normal slave until one day his friend got crushed by a giant boulder, after 47 is upset at his funeral he leaves the plantation in to the forest, and meets a young African boy that says he is from outer space. Now the plantation owner catches both of them and hits 47. After that m ...more
Oct 02, 2014 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In the historical fiction novel 47, by Walter Mosley, the main character, 47, was born a slave in a cotton plantation. He always knew that when he was old enough, he would work in the fields, forever. Once he began working though, he met Tall John who changed his life, and whole way of thinking. He taught 47 the true meaning of freedom, and how the way you think affects you whole attitude, and life. (view spoiler)

Denise Cooper
Otherworldly and magical...Walther Mosely gives us a story of a young slave named 47 and his friend from beyond named John. John teaches freedom is not something a white slave owner can give you. That freedom is something you are. You may truly want to read this book to find out what slave mentality and freedom mean to you.

I loved this book. It was in the Middle Zone section of my library. I had no idea Mr. Mosley wrote in so many genres but am definitely not surprised just didn't know. This is
Aug 29, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Appreciated this book's charms, but couldn't shake the feeling that the mythology reminded me of the Operating Thetan levels of Scientology.
This book was pretty good, but i didnt like a bunch elements from it which resulted in my putting down this book. First of all i never really liked historical fiction. I knew this book was that, but i was in the mood to read a good historical fiction. The second element of this book that caused me to put down this book was that this whole alien thing came pretty abruptly. Before i read this book i had read nothing about this book, i was basically going in it blindly. I was expecting a regular hi ...more
Luis Villegas
May 08, 2015 Luis Villegas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really good. It explained how slavery really was for African Americans. I also like how the author made Tall John, a Run away slave, A mysterious type of character. Tall John changed 47, a 14 year old boy & the main character. He also later on helped him escape. This book really showed how slaves gained hope and never really lost it. The author also made this book easy to read and understand. I also like how he approached the ideas of freedom and slavery. He mad it very believa ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Tiffani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was everything I wanted in a book. It was slightly historical with a lot of other worldly events. For the mindset that I have about life and the thing's I've come to believe in it didn't take much for me to understand this book. It was complex and an amazing read. I finished it in one day after school and it done before I went to bed. It's one of the books in my collection I'm extremely proud to say I've gotten the chance to say I've read and experienced. I feel like this is a book I can't ...more
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Walter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numero ...more
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