Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Song Yet Sung Paperback – January 6, 2009
|New from||Used from|
2016 Book Awards
Browse award-winning titles. See all 2016 winners
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Escaped slaves, free blacks, slave-catchers and plantation owners weave a tangled web of intrigue and adventure in bestselling memoirist (The Color of Water) McBride's intricately constructed and impressive second novel, set in pre–Civil War Maryland. Liz Spocott, a beautiful young runaway slave, suffers a nasty head wound just before being nabbed by a posse of slave catchers. She falls into a coma, and, when she awakes, she can see the future—from the near-future to Martin Luther King to hip-hop—in her dreams. Liz's visions help her and her fellow slaves escape, but soon there are new dangers on her trail: Patty Cannon and her brutal gang of slave catchers, and a competing slave catcher, nicknamed The Gimp, who has a surprising streak of morality. Liz has some friends, including an older woman who teaches her The Code that guides runaways; a handsome young slave; and a wild inhabitant of the woods and swamps. Kidnappings, gunfights and chases ensue as Liz drifts in and out of her visions, which serve as a thoughtful meditation on the nature of freedom and offer sharp social commentary on contemporary America. McBride hasn't lost his touch: he nails the horrors of slavery as well as he does the power of hope and redemption. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
After a moving tribute to his Jewish mother (The Color of Water, 1996) and a novel about African American soldiers in World War II (Miracle at St. Anna, 2003), jazz musician and composer James McBride reaches even further into the past to explore the complexities and unpredictability of human nature against the backdrop of slavery. Based on actual historical figures, including Harriet Tubman, McBride’s novel starts slowly but soon develops into a suspenseful, action-packed adventure. Some critics objected to the blatant social criticism in Liz’s dreams of modern-day African Americans (described by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as “frankly offensive imagery and the polemic they clearly represent”), and a few cited flat characters and overly modern idioms. However, throughout this compelling and thought-provoking novel, McBride skillfully weaves his timely message that slavery can persist in many forms.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The writing is so beautiful and true that it gives you goose bumps. Liz's dreams of the future exquisitely convey, through the eyes of a time traveler, the wonder and tribulations of contemporary American life. The characters transcend stereotypes and come alive. Even Patty, a female-slave catcher who embodies absolute evil, is unique, individual, and fascinating. The interactions between the desperate young slave who loves Liz, and his struggling, widowed female owner, decent people trapped in an inhuman situation, are full of nuance and complexity.
The theme of slavery, the paranormal element, and the sheer brilliance of the writing invite comparison with Toni Morrison's Beloved. This is a superb work of literature.
This novel starts with Liz, who is nicknamed the Dreamer, and her gift of seeing the future is well known and well feared in pre-Civil War Maryland. Captured by a notorious slave catcher named Patty Cannon, Liz meets an old woman who spins her own fantastic tale of "the Code", none of which makes sense either to us or Liz. Determined to escape from her attic confines, Liz makes a daring move and frees herself and everyone else in the attic, thus starting the rest of the story, which is a hunt for Liz.
Liz's former owner and secret paramour hires a succesful slave catcher himself, Denwood Long, unfortunately named "the Gimp", who has a haunted past himself. Along with him, Patty Cannon gathers her own posse of people to ruthlessly hunt Liz. There is even a backwoods "bogey man", called the Woolman, who comes into the story in a very believable and chilling way.
However, it's Liz where much of the theme of the story lies. It's in her dreams that began to intrigue me. Here we have a slave, on the run, who defies wanting to be put on the Underground Railroad because her dreams of life for African-Americans up north, she sees, isn't good at all. McBride's reflections on some aspects of black culture intrigue. Slaves so longed for their freedom, and yet, look at where it has lead some of them. (Coincidentally, I have started watching HBO's visionary series The Wire - The Complete First Season). Will Liz decide, against her visions of the future, to escape?
Secondly, McBride's description of "The Code" is simply amazing. I think this is the first novel that I've read where the path to the Underground Railroad was so brilliantly shown. It really was an amazing thing how the "Code" developed, and was known and understood by many. Simply by word of mouth, during a time of intense trial, people found their voice and sang in a way that saved many a life.
Song Yet Sung is not only a reflection of culture, of life in the slave south, and a gripping adventure story, but it also is a celebration of the human spirit. As the book draws to an end, you do feel as if you've spent time in another world. Rich with descriptions, deeply felt characters, tension, and tenderness, Song Yet Sung will be a book that shall be with us for years on end, and hopefully, discussed, examined, to unlock its deep, rich treasures.
McBride touches on the past, present, and future of our racially divided country. Song Yet Sung has a lyrical style that runs the full range of emotions and shows the complexity of the human spirit. This wonderfully written work will strike a chord with readers.
Reviewed by M. P. McKinney