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Good Fortune Hardcover – January 5, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Sarah, Anna, and Ayanna are the names used by one person over the course of her life. First she is Sarah, a slave on a plantation in Tennessee. Her days are full of endless labor, humiliation, and the threat of rape. She struggles to understand the meaning of freedom and to educate herself despite the danger. After witnessing a brutal whipping, she flees north to freedom. Barely surviving the harrowing journey, Sarah and her adopted brother arrive in Ohio, only to find that freedom is not as sweet as she had hoped. She changes her name to Anna and begins a new life, but she worries about loved ones left behind and is embittered by the severe restrictions and discrimination faced by free blacks. One of the more effective literary devices is how Anna's narration gradually shifts from slave patois to more refined speech as her education progresses. Ayanna was her name as a child in Africa, remembered in nightmares, where the memories of the murder of her mother, the horrifying ocean passage in the belly of a slave ship, and being separated from her brother on the auction block haunt her. The transitions between the dreams and waking life are occasionally jarring, but on the whole the narrative flows smoothly and is well paced. An author's note about fact and fiction in the book adds weight to the historical information included.—Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In the stirring narrative of young Sarah on a Tennessee plantation in the early nineteenth century, this lengthy debut novel tells an American slavery story, weaving together the brutal labor and threats of sexual assault with Sarah’s memories of capture in Africa. When she escapes with her “brother” Daniel, she leaves behind her tender, adoptive mother and John, the young man she loves, and she discovers that escape does not mean freedom. As they reach Ohio, Sarah, now 14, dreams of education, but she encounters vicious prejudice, including the n-word (“You have no idea what education is, and if you did, you wouldn’t know what to do with it”). She does know what education is, of course, and later she even establishes a school. With many spelled-out messages, Carter’s novel tries to fold in too much for one story, and in the long afterword, which distinguishes fact from fiction, she acknowledges plot contrivances. Despite these shortfalls, though, the harsh, realistic history will captivate readers, as will the brave young girl’s struggle and triumph. Grades 8-11. --Hazel Rochman
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416984801
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416984801
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,830,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ayanna Bahati was born in Africa in 1807. But at just four years old, she is cruelly torn from her mother's arms as her mother is brutally murdered. Ayanna is then packed onto a slave ship bound for America. She is sold to a plantation in Tennessee, where her name is changed to Sarah.

Sarah is taken under wing by a wise slave woman named Aunt Mary and raised alongside her son, Daniel. In all aspects other than blood, Mary and Daniel become Sarah's new mother and brother. Sarah falls into the backbreaking --- and spirit breaking --- routines of life on a plantation. And though she suffers from reoccurring nightmares of her abduction in Africa and the torturous boat ride across the ocean, she doesn't recall much from her life before slavery. But she does remember two things: the precious gift of her mother's love, and the precious gift of freedom.

Sarah starts out working in the fields but later on receives new orders to care for the master's two young children. In the days that follow, she listens as the kids recite their school lessons, and the seed of knowledge is planted: she begins to dream of getting an education. Slowly and secretly, Sarah consumes the lessons that the children practice, snatches bits and pieces overheard outside the school room window, and devotes what little free time she has to practice writing letters in the dirt. She even teaches herself to read. But this tiny sip of knowledge just makes her thirst for more.

Then when Sarah is 14, she overhears Daniel making plans to escape. Sarah never forgot what freedom tasted like, and with the master's oldest son threatening Sarah with rape, now is the right time to run. They break free from the plantation and run for their lives towards freedom.
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Format: Hardcover
Brutally stolen from her African homeland at the age of four and sold into slavery on a cotton plantation in Tennessee, Ayanna (Anna) Bahati could not find relief from the recurrent nightmares of her abduction. As soon as she was old enough, Anna began toiling endless days of hard physical labor working the cotton fields. This grueling schedule changed somewhat when Anna was about fourteen and Aunt Mary, the mother figure who cared for her on the plantation, convinced the Missus to allow Anna to spend some of the day performing housework and watching the children.

Although slaves were forbidden to get an education, Anna used her work with the children as an opportunity to learn how to read and write, which in turn fortified her desire to escape to freedom. Escape she did, under traumatic circumstances that left the young man she loved behind. With intense determination and some assistance from strangers, Anna found her way to a free black community in Ohio. Although she found a way to make a living, Anna soon realized that entrenched segregation and hostility against blacks meant that injustices such as the lack of education could continue, even in a free state. Anna would need to push the boundaries, at the risk of grave danger, to live the life of freedom she had yearned.

Carefully researched, this debut novel from Noni Carter provides readers with a stark depiction of the abhorrent conditions that enslaved Africans endured during their passage across the ocean and their forced labor on American plantations. Readers will be drawn to the courage and spirit of the lead character, a young woman who found inspiration from the written word and from the grace of people she knew she could trust.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow! An incredibly powerful story, wonderfully written. Noni Carter is clearly wise beyond her years. It is my greatest hope that this book reach millions of readers.
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A Kid's Review on October 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"I am [...] and I really enjoyed this book. I started reading this book on a Monday night and finished before dinner on Tuesday. My mom had to tell me to put it away so I could finish my schoolwork (I'm homeschooled).
I liked Sarah and Mary's courage and how Sarah didn't let her situation get to her. I really liked how she wasn't a slave in her own eyes. I liked her courage to run away with her brother and Tucker. I'm glad of what she accomplished. It was an encouraging book."
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Format: Hardcover
You have got to add this book to your list. OMG!!! It is so good and easy to read. I finished it this morning. I felt very connected to the characters and found it to be historically accurate for the time period. I felt as if I was walking with the characters through their lives and so I felt the emotions they felt when they hurt or laughed. Noni Carter is an artist. It was as good in the beginning as it was in the middle and end!
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Format: Hardcover
Good Fortune is an exceptionally well written book. The characters are well developed.
I couldn't put it down. I most loved the inspiration that I felt while living vicariously through the main character. I feel like I can do anything. It is amazing that this book was written by a teenager. I definitely look forward to her next novel.
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Format: Hardcover
14 yr old Sarah was four when she's kidnapped into slavery. Than her name was Ayanna. Now its 1821 Sarah is a slave in Tennessee. At night she dreams of her family and freedom. Mary, a slave who works in the house becomes Sarah's new mother. Mary's son Daniel her new brother.

Sarah splits her time between working the cotton fields and caring for the two small children in the house. When the children play school, Sarah uses the oppurtunity to educate herself. Sarah is determined to learn to read and write no matter the risk.

When Sarah learns that Daniel and a few of his friends are planning to escape, she wants to go. One of the master's sons Jeffrey has his eye on Sarah. She wants to leave before he can put his hands on her.

Sarah has feelings for John, Daniel's friend. John feels the same way. Their relationship is fragile and dangerous thanks to Jeffrey.

Good Fortune is 470 pages, and reads like a novel half its size. Sometimes long novels jump too far ahead in the story and I've feel as if I've missed something. Other times they don't seem to move at all and the story seems to drag. Good Fortune doesn't fall into either one of those categories. I loved the paced. Carter's writing is very good. Sarah's voice is clear and strong throughout.

One of the things that stood out for me in this novel is the research that went into it. If a young reader had never read a novel about slavery, Good Fortune would be the second one I gave them right after To Be A Slave by Julius Lester.
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