Read This Next: Teresa Augustine

My “Read This Next” recommendation is “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead.

Teresa Augustine

Years ago, I was given a copy of “The Underground Railroad” just after I read “The Nickel Boys” by the same author and it sat on the shelf until recently. I knew it was an alternate history, but I wasn’t prepared for where the story would take me — Whitehead has a way of developing distressing tragedies that leave you ruminating.

Whitehead uses magical realism and creatively superimposes events from the 19th and 20th centuries, but “The Underground Railroad” isn’t the kind of book you necessarily “enjoy”. It’s a historical fiction that reminds us of the brutalities of slavery and the violence inflicted on minorities.

As a reader, you carry the suspense, anxiety, and horror that the main character faces in her flight. At the same time, this novel also reflects how we can elevate ourselves through education, the peace that can be found in communities working for a common good, and how the ability to persevere is woven into our human experience. 

There are boundaries to what I want to read and typically enjoy, but I try to keep an open mind. While I read for many reasons, I value the empathy I gain from reading the experiences of others, even when it’s fiction. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to read through tragic events and sometimes we just need to read out of our comfort zone. “The Underground Railroad” pushes the line, but the history it parallels makes it an important read.

For anyone interested, “The Underground Railroad” can be found in the Christopher Center Library (PS3573.H4768). Most likely the next title I’ll read by Colson Whitehead will be “The Intuitionist.” The next few books in my queue are “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir, “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi, and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. 

Teresa Augustine