In 1830 Joseph Jacobs would have been considered lucky for a slave. Not only is he living with his free grandmother, but the man who owns him is actually his father and he doesn't make Joseph work. Joseph is even learning to write from a white boy who is his friend. There is only one problem, Joseph's mother is still owned by a cruel master who she has run away from. Joseph hasn't seen her in over seven years, and little does he know, but his mother has been hiding in a attic room right above his head.
But when Joseph finally gets to see his mother again it is on the night that she must flee North to escape slave hunters who have been told where she is hiding. For Joseph this is the start of a journey that will take him thousands of miles on a search for a place where both he and his mother can enjoy true freedom.
“Letters from a Slave Boy – The Story of Joseph Jacobs” is very well written and has several features that I appreciated. The story is based on the real life experiences of Harriet and Joseph Jacobs. Sometimes its difficult in historical novels such as this one to determine which characters are real and which ones are invented. Author Mary E. Lyons list the characters right up front in two categories: “Real,” “Fictional.” The real characters are well designed, sticking to the story, but including enough extra details to add depth and feeling to the plot.
I definitely enjoyed reading “Letters from a Slave Boy – The Story of Joseph Jacobs.” All considered, the book is a good quality piece of historical fiction that teaches lessons about the nineteenth century experience of a young slave boy.