I received a copy of ACROSS THE WIDE RIVER by Stephanie Reed from Kregel Publications. It is an historic novel for teenagers, about the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. I love historical fiction and this book didn’t fail to live up to my expectations. What is better, it is based on a true story. The Rankin family really existed.
The story centers on Lowry Rankin. He begins as a child, but quickly matures. His family leaves Kentucky to live in Ohio, where they participate as a station on the Underground Railroad. Lowry’s father is a minister, and the family strongly supports the abolitionist movement.
I have my Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and while I read, I kept thinking about how perfect this book would be for a social studies class. It not only fits well with the Civil War era, but it is easily relatable for teenagers. Lowry leaves his treasured home in Kentucky for Ohio; moving is something many people have dealt with. He also learns how to fully welcome God into his life, and highly values religion, which is another positive trait for young adults. Lowry discovers how to deal with shyness, which is a new obstacle for him once he moves to Ohio. Many people, myself included, have had to overcome being shy around others. It is inspiring to know that if he can do it, so can the reader. He even worries it will keep him from becoming a proper minister, similar to how I once worried about being a teacher despite my shyness. Lowry also deals with bullies, family, and standing up for what he believes in – an end to slavery. Stephanie Reed paints a poignant image of the cruelties slaves faced, and their troubles with escaping.
I enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anyone interested in history.