Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
Published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon &
Fifteen-year-old Amari is happily enjoying life in her African village when slave traders from America ambush her family and friends and take many, including Amari, on a slave ship overseas. Those they do not choose to take with them are killed. When Amari reaches America, after a grueling journey on the Middle Passage, she is sold to a plantation owner and told that she is now the property of the man’s teenage son. Despite the horrors Amari faces on the plantation on a daily basis, she quickly becomes friends with a white indentured servant girl named Polly, and the two of them come up with a plan for their eventual freedom.
Copper Sun is a perfect example of the power of literature. With this book, Sharon Draper has brought the slave trade to life right before the reader’s eyes (and in my case, ears, as I listened to this book on audio). Of course I have studied slavery in school, and I’d like to think I am a somewhat educated person when it comes to history (especially American history) but Copper Sun makes the experience of slavery crystal clear in a way no history book could ever do.
This book is realistic to the point of being heart-wrenching. I say that in the best way possible, but it doesn’t make the experience of reading it necessarily easy. The horrors experienced by Amari and Polly are unspeakable, there were many instances in the novel that brought tears to my eyes and I truly cannot imagine putting myself in their shoes and enduring that kind of pain, both physical and emotional. I’m telling you, Copper Sun is powerful with a capital P.
Sharon Draper did an incredible job in creating her characters here. Amari and Polly were real to me, I was completely invested in their lives and cared deeply about what would happen to them. Additionally, she created believable characters in the slave master, his wife, his son, and the other slaves on the plantation. Some of these characters were despicable people, but all the same they were realistic. I definitely believed what I was reading.
One last thing – I experienced Copper Sun as an audiobook, and it was a good choice for me. The narrator, Myra Lucretia Taylor, did a very good job and really kept my attention – the inflection and emotion in her voice was excellent. I would definitely recommend listening to the book just as much as I would reading it in print.
Copper Sun is a fabulous novel, one that I can’t accurately capture its excellence with words. This is the type of book that makes me grateful I am able to experience literature, and it makes me grateful that there are teenagers in the world who will read this and come away with a better understanding of what slavery really was. I very highly recommend this novel.