The story of a mother's journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery. The master of the Providence plantation gathers his slaves and announces that as of the following day, the Emancipation Act of 1834 will come into effect. The cries of joy fall silent when he announces that they are no longer his slaves; they are now his apprentices. They must work for him for another six years. Freedom is just another name for the life they have always lived. So Rachel runs.
... propulsive ... This compelling premise of a mother in search of her children powers a moving and dynamic novel. The pacing is swift, and Shearer writes in clear, energetic prose. There is an accessibility to the language that is refreshing; it buoys the narrative, giving us intimate access to a complex period in history ... This fictional account acts as a form of deep witnessing, an ode to the oral tradition and the slave communities it sustained ... There were instances where I wished the novel would pull back and allow me to experience the complexity simmering on the page; too often, the characters’ tears became the shorthand for deeper, complex, roiling emotions.
Rachel is well drawn, someone we can root for, but her all-consuming quest means Shearer’s other characters are less nuanced ... The harsh world of slavery is the backdrop, but the heart of the novel lies in its celebration of motherhood and female resilience. This is a tender exploration of one woman’s courage in the face of unbelievable cruelty. The possibility that Rachel will lose everything she has fought so hard for immerses us in her plight.
... moving testament to a mother’s love and the heartbreaking toll of families torn apart ... For Rachel, although her efforts to locate her children do not always succeed as she hoped, freedom is found in her search.