Danielle's Reviews > Nightjohn

Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen
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's review
Dec 08, 10

bookshelves: eng-420-elective
Read in December, 2010

Genre: Fiction, Slavery, Freedom

Though Nightjohn is short, it has a very powerful message. The story is told from the perspective of a 12-year old slave girl named Sarny who sees a lot but is rather quiet. One of her greatest desires is to learn how to read and write, but her Mammy warns her that the master will cut off her thumbs if she does. When the Master brings home a new slave named John, Sarny befriends him and he begins to teach her the alphabet, which he once learned as a free man in the North. John chose to return to the South to teach other slaves how to read so that they can document their experiences. Everything is turned around when the master finds Sarny writing words in the dirt one day. The story is concise, yet incredibly memorable. It's devastating to read about the cruelties of slavery that existed in this country not that long ago, but refreshing to see how far we've come. I loved the book and found it completely inspiring. I couldn't believe how much hatred I felt towards the slave-owner and found it rather hard to read at times, but it's a very touching story.

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