Cathy Gohlke won the Christy award in 2007 for her first novel, William Henry is a Fine Name. I can’t imagine a more deserving story.
Thirteen-year-old Robert Glover loves fishing and skunking and skinny-dipping with his best friend William Henry in Elkton, Maryland, 1859. Life is just as good as it can be, except for the howling dogs that wake him at night, his parents’ muffled arguments, and his father’s middle-of-the-night disappearances. Robert discovers his father is involved in helping slaves flee the south, and his mother—having grown up on a tobacco plantation in North Carolina—views slavery as a natural part of life.
Robert’s mother receives word her father is dying, and she and Robert travel to North Carolina. Robert has never met his grandfather, but once the man is healthy, Robert cannot help but dislike him. He sees cruelty he never imagined on Grandfather’s tobacco plantation. Back home, slaves are free, but in North Carolina, they are property. Robert must choose between his parents’ differing beliefs, and his grandfather’s new affection. He searches to know what is right and what, if anything, he can do about it.
I found this book touching and fascinating. I felt as if I was experiencing the Underground Railroad myself. Robert’s character is so real and his journey and growth so powerful, he becomes a friend. I want to read more about his life and the wonderful way he lives it and am thrilled there is a sequel, I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires. I highly recommended this novel.
Age Range: 10 and up
Genre: Historical fiction
Part of a Series: There is a stand alone sequel.
Publisher: Moody Publishers