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The Gospel Truth

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  280 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Award-winning author Caroline Pignat's new historical novel recreates the world of a Virginia tobacco plantation in 1858. Through the different points of view of slaves, their masters and a visiting bird-watcher the world of the plantation comes to live in this verse novel.

Phoebe belongs to Master Duncan and works in the plantation kitchen. She sees how the other slaves a
Paperback, 327 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by Red Deer Press
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Le Chiffre Location? Really? That is your criteria for reading this book? May I recommend reading Mills' "On Liberty" rather than reading this joke of a book?

Community Reviews

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Joanne Lemieux Contant
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is as fast read written in dramatic free verse. I could not stop reading it!
Nicole A
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
YA book about the experiences of a young girl living in slavery in Virginia in 1800s. My 13 year old daughter loved this book and wanted me to read it too. I really liked the verse, and the changing perspective throughout the story, which was easy and interesting to read. My one criticism is that this story relies a little too heavily on the white savior trope, and uncritically refers to Canada as a place where escaped slaves could be free. This is the narrative I grew up with in Canada, and I t ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Gospel Truth by Caroline Pignat is not about religion, so don’t let that influence your decision about reading it. If you like historical fiction, human rights stories or character based fiction this will catch your attention.

I have a weakness for novels in verse. There’s something about the way it flows that draws me in. I read this in less than two hours, but an easy read doesn’t mean a frivolous one. Heavy subject matter is explored in the text.

Pignat followed the popular trend this year
Wow! This is a book that could be read in a day but it is also one that will stay with you for some time after completing it. Although on its surface (and in its depth) the book is about slavery, the lives of slaves, and the Underground Railroad, the book is also a very poignant Coming of Age tale about Phoebe, the protagonist, a slave on a tobacco farm.

When I picked up the book I was not so sure about the format, but in reading it really enjoyed the free-flow verse. This style allowed Pignat t
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Can I just say that this book was not what I expected. First of all, I actually only picked up this book because the title was a Disney song (Disnerd alert) and I just picked it up for fun. I didn't really expect the cover to look like that but, then again, I didn't know what to expect. The synopsis confused me, not because how it was written, but I didn't know the connection between the plot and the title.

I gave the book a chance and it was by far, one of my best decisions! This book was finish
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved the voice of the main character, Phoebe in this beautifully written novel in verse. The only thing that I was disappointed with in this novel was that the story didn't follow Phoebe into Canada. I was looking for excellent Canadian Historical fiction, and although the story is part of our history, Canada was not really depicted in the novel - a negligible objection given that it is excellent historical fiction and many of my students will love it and learn from it.
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: red-maple-2016
I really enjoyed The Gospel Truth. When ever there's a book that shows the different point of views it just interests me more. Phoebe was by far my favourite character. She's so full of courage and she's very caring. Bird man was also very caring. He's one of my favourite as well.
Rachel Maughan
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Book Review: The Gospel Truth written by Caroline Pignat
By Rachel Maughan
September 10th, 2017

"The Gospel Truth" is an amazing book that is based in Virginia on a tobacco plantation in 1858. It follows Phoebe, the main character, and her struggles and the decisions that she has to make to help herself and her friends over-come slavery. "The Gospel Truth," written by Caroline Pignat, is a fantastic book that captures your attention immediately! The way that the author connects the yellow bird in t
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
While designated as a YA novel, this stunning book should be for everyone. Written in free verse that is technically perfect despite featuring several distinct voices, Phoebe's story resonates even more today as we experience a resurgence of white supremacy movements. Phoebe, a sixteen year old slave on a Virginia tobacco plantation, has learned to cope with the harsh reality of her existence and the brutality occurring all around her. But when a mysterious Canadian stranger, a Dr. Bergman, arri ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At first, I didn't want to read this book when I saw its unique style. However, once I dived into it, I fell in love with it. It's an amazing read! It's both intense and heartfelt. The main character Phoebe really pulls at your heart strings and all the other supporting characters are complex and interesting. Highly recommend!
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved the insights it gave to life of a slave and the struggles Phoebe had to overcome. I also loved the different views of master and slave and enjoyed the idea that no one knows their evil. They are just doing as told.
Karen Bisschop
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tween-reads
Love the free verse format--a beautiful way to tell a story involving inherent secrecy and deception. I had never heard of Dr. Alexander Ross, so this was a wonderful introduction to his role in the Underground Railroad (as transformed into the character Dr. Bergman for this story).
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a feast of beautiful language with a point-of-view smorgasbord in this mid-1800s tale of slaves seeking freedom. But I must say my favourite parts of the story were the ones according to Phoebe.
“… that bright yellow bird …
It look dead.
But I lift it in my cupped hands,
and I know it ain’t.
I feel it—
that tiny heart tap-tapping, strong and true.
It feel like hope.” (p. 8)

“Is it dead, Phoebe?” Miss Tessa ask.
I shake my head.
That bird just so scared of what is,
it gotta go on pretending what isn’t.
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Check out more reviews on my blog!

The Gospel Truth by Caroline Pignat is a historical novel in verse, which follows Phoebe and the people around her. She is the slave of a plantation-owner’s daughter, Tessa, and Phoebe hasn’t spoken in years. She, unlike the other slaves on the tobacco plantation, has taught herself to read by listening to Tessa’s tutors. She thinks nothing will change the fact that she is someone else’s property, but then the Canadian bir
Le Chiffre
Feb 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
Pignet fictionalizes the typical all "white people' are bad, except for a small minority, and all "people of color" are noble and misunderstood false narrative. What you really have is a privileged white woman exploiting blackness for personal gain. I don't see her writing about the exploitation and brutalization of women and children in Asia or work shops employing children in India. Why? That doesn't buy Prada shoes for her privileged lifestyle? What, did she watch "Roots" and say I can make s ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Award-winning author Caroline Pignat's new historical novel recreates the world of a Virginia tobacco plantation in 1858. Through the different points of view of slaves, their masters and a visiting bird-watcher the world of the plantation comes to live in this verse novel.

I picked up this book because it is on the list of nominees for the Red Maple Award. (It is voted on by students) I try to read as many of these as I can every year. I loved the fact that the structure was free verse; I think
Nov 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: books
I watch them weigh it.
Each man wondering if he's willing to wager his life
on the wards of a white man
in the woods at midnight.

Phoebe, a slave in 1858, sixteen years old. When a man who claims to be birdwatching comes to her plantation, Pheobe is scared and, soon, her whole life is going to fall apart.


A heart wrenching story about a slave who follows what she thinks is right whatever the cost. There are a few twists that I didn't expect but not too bad a book overall. I had the same feelin
Phoebe's story, told through verse, is not a new one, but that does not make it less important to hear. Born into slavery, her mother sold away, Phoebe was so traumatized that she became an elective mute. Serving the daughter of the plantation, Phoebe draws the attention of a visitor from the north. Events begin to unfold, and Phoebe has to make a decision about what price she is willing to pay for freedom.

There's nothing really new in this story. Phoebe being selectively mute is a different twi
Lee Födi
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was completely immersed in this book from the first page. The subject matter—slavery in the Old South—has been covered numerous times and by some of my favorite authors (Beloved by Toni Morrison and Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner), but what gives this story a fresh take is its style. Each section is a gospel truth told by different characters. This poetry-style format is what really engaged me and caused me to tumble through the book, line after line, page after page. I was slightly disa ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I took my time reading this historical fiction novel for young adults. Considering the author is a Caucasian woman from Canada, I thought she was able to deliver an authetic voice of a teenage African American slave from the deep South. Pignat did her research and from it she create a stunning piece of work. Every character she used had each had a distinct voice which added layers and dimension to the story. I do wish we had a little more insight into the Birdman character, however this was not ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a historical fiction taking place during the time of slavery in the US. This book proceeds at a good pace. Something always seems to be happening or something will lead to a key event. What the characters are doing and feeling seem authentic to the time. The book is well written in the viewpoints of different characters, Phoebe (a slave), other slaves, the master and a man who studies birds. Through vocabulary, pronunciation, spelling and grammar, Pignat illustrates the different viewpoi ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Gospel Truth moved me. I was touched by the story and the characters, which is saying a lot, given that slavery is a very old story. Why? The characters feel very human, very real. The story has both brutality and humanity. It does not seem to be trying to be an exposee of slavery. It's a story of people in time.

Oddly, one aspect of the story that I thought was especially well drawn was the force of sex in shaping human lives. The book has little romance, no romantic love, but what men and w
Diana Stevan
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Gospel Truth was recommended by my teen granddaughter. She's not an avid reader but this book spoke to her. It's a Y/A book and written in prose poem style, so I wasn't sure but I gave it a try and am I ever happy I did. Fabulous! It's one of those books that could as easily go into an adult library. I want to buy it now and re-read it for the language. It resonated on so many levels. It's heartbreaking what blacks had to go through in the USA during the times of slavery. Highly recommended.
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed The Gospel Truth. At first the beginning was slow because nothing really happened to anyone and there was no action. However, once I got just past the middle of the book, it started to speed up. This is because the author finally got to the main point of the book started to begin. The story became more about characters escaping and events began to line up. At first, I didn’t realize that the characters were alternating voices so I had to start over, but I am glad I did because I enjoye ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent book; interesting style, written in free verse, in 6 characters’ voices.
Great quotations:
1. Bea a real hornet’s next. Only a fool be the stick that
Poke her. 2. I can disappear like a tree in a forest. 3. . Fancy pants and new shoes don’t change the fool that wearing the, she say. 4. You made your choices…You ain’t responsible for what someone else choose. The only choices you get to make, the only ones you gots to live with, is your own. Each choice was one small step bringing me to
Jenny Huang
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
70% — 3.5 stars

"You ain't responsible for what someone else choose.
The only choices you get to make,
the only ones you gots to live with,
is your own."

Caroline Pignat, last year's Unspeakable author, returns once again with an amazing novel. Though it didn't meet that standard, it was amazing for a novel told in poetry format. Usually, that type of style has no appeal to me, but The Gospel Truth really caught me, and I finished it within a day.
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: chsbc-nominee
It was pretty good--Pignat's writing seems more polished than what I've read before, and I really liked the way she highlighted how important it is to act on what you believe is right. We've all read a few 'underground railroad' stories, but this is a new way of telling the story and the emotion involved. I'm just thinking about the title, and guessing that we'll have a good discussion in Book Club about why she used that one.
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: red-maple
This was a fantastic book. The story always kept me interested even when nothing big or exciting was happening. I love how the author wrote Phoebe's part in the story. She was the most interesting to read about. I also enjoyed the fact that the book taught us some history without it being boring or went on forever about the same thing, and the ending was the best. I very much enjoyed reading this and I highly recommend this book.
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: red-maple-2016
Poetry isn't really my thing, so I was worried that I wouldn't like this book. Turns out, I couldn't put it down. It seems like the author gave up on poetry by the end of the first chapter, but that's fine by me. This book had lots of cliffhangers, and always had you guessing what would happen next. For the most part, I guessed wrong. I don't think this is the kind of book everyone would enjoy, but if you like true-story type books, you'll love it.
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Caroline Pignat is the two-time Governor Generalʼs Award winning author of highly acclaimed young adult novels. Her historical fiction, contemporary, and free verse novels use multiple points of view and varied forms to engage readers of all ages.

As a Writer's Craft student, Caroline wrote a short story that years later became Greener Grass, the first of a critically acclaimed series, and went on
More about Caroline Pignat

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