(The book group meets once a month at various members’ homes. Depending on the time of year and the book read, this group usually includes 8-14 people.)
Six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam during a tour of the Grand Canyon with her guardian, Taylor. Her insistence on what she has seen, and her mother’s belief in her, lead to a man’s dramatic rescue. The mother and adopted daughter duo soon become nationwide heroes – even landing themselves a guest appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. But Turtle’s moment of celebrity draws her into a conflict of historic proportions stemming right back to her Cherokee roots. The crisis quickly envelops not only Turtle and her guardian, but everyone else who touches their lives in a complex web connecting their future with their past.
Embark on a unforgettable road trip from rural Kentucky and the urban Southwest to Heaven, Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation, testing the boundaries of family and the many separate truths about the ties that bind.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.