Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Light Across the River 1: Intro

Stephanie Reed's The Light Across the River takes up where Across the Wide River left off, only now we see Lowry in a less sympathetic, indeed obnoxious, light. He's berating his younger brother Johnny for having the loosest lips before Mick Jagger. (Those familiar with the previous story will remember that Lowry's besetting problem was lockjaw.) Since the Rankin family has a dangerous secret--Reed explains the penalties for helping slaves escape quite thoroughly--a blabbermouth could cause a lot of misery and even some death here and there. And to make matters worse, Johnny doesn't even have anyone to tell about it.

Now, in Johnny's defense, he sincerely believes that if everyone knew the truth, they would rally to the good and abolish evil. This is technically known as "Why, yes! I will buy the Brooklyn Bridge" syndrome. A few brushes with people who are eager to be evil for a buck settles him a bit, as does a brush with a nice lady devoid of fashion sense.

Hands up, everyone who has read Uncle Tom's Cabin! Okay, I guess I'll include movie and comic-book versions just to nudge this toward double digits. You can download it as a free audio book, you know. Anyway--one of the most famous characters, even better known really than Uncle Tom himself, is Eliza (Indian name: Dances with Ice Floes), who crosses a broken ice field to elude slave hunters. For extra points, she carries a baby with her. She was based on a real, live slave.

Guess what?

In real life, this real escapee passed through the Rankin station of the Underground Railroad, so she becomes the second main character in the current story. In fact, she and Johnny alternate chapters as they get more and more involved in the dangerous world of rescuing slaves. (There is a lot more violence, threatened and actual, in this story.) She also brings along a token agnostic, a French Canadian who's with the Canuck navy, presumably as a Frog man. (Why, yes, that was gratuitous. Thanks for noticing.) He threatens to kill people a lot, but it's really just his way of saying he cares. Anyway, the new guy, Gil, would have been watching way to many action movies if they'd been invented yet.

Will Eliza get everyone to safety? Will Gil be eaten by a nearsighted Cajun? Will Johnny someday put a cork in it? For answers to these and other questions, read the book.

(And tomorrow, as usual, I'll explore the story's strengths.)

You can purchase The Light Across the River at

Christian Books



And Yahoo.

I've pushed the book; let's see if you can push my buttons!

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