Cross­ing Ebenezer Creek

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Young Adult -

Tonya Bolden, Blooms­bury Pub­lish­ing Hard­cover $17.99 (216pp), 978-1-5107-1172-3

Cross­ing Ebenezer Creek is a poignant his­tor­i­cal novel about the mean­ing of free­dom and the heartache of dreams. In it, Tonya Bolden has wo­ven a haunt­ing Civil War tale.

The novel starts with an eerie ref­er­ence to ghosts, ghosts that haunt Ebenezer Creek with strange sounds that howl through the cy­press trees. Af­ter this omi­nous open­ing, the tale moves quickly into the free­ing of Mariah and her brother, Zeke—though the mo­ment is far from the black-and-white, mo­men­tous cel­e­bra­tion that one might ex­pect. In­stead, Mariah and Zeke join Sher­man’s march through Ge­or­gia as Mariah dreams of start­ing a new life, a life that per­haps might in­clude the mys­te­ri­ous young black man, named Caleb, who ac­com­pa­nies them.

The novel main­tains a rhyth­mic prose through­out, with a steady beat to para­graphs and sen­tences that can at times be choppy, but which is al­ways part of a unique, un­der­stated style in which Bolden chose to tell the story. The cli­max of the story, drawn from his­tor­i­cal events, is ter­ri­ble and riv­et­ing, some­how feel­ing both sur­pris­ing and in­evitable. At stake is Mariah’s dream for a fam­ily and an acre of land, a dream that at times seems haunt­ingly at­tain­able, and at times des­per­ately far out of reach.

Cross­ing Ebenezer Creek is a po­etic, lyri­cal novel that de­liv­ers its mes­sage through a heart-wrench­ing story; it is not for read­ers look­ing for neatly pack­aged jus­tice or per­fect happy end­ings. In­stead, it’s ideal for read­ers look­ing for the grit of a his­tor­i­cal novel, read­ers who are also look­ing to feel the max­i­mum emo­tions of that age.

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