Of the books by Mildred Taylor that I have read all touch on sensitive racial issues. “The Land” is no exception. The main character is a boy named Paul-Edward. Early in the story, Taylor introduces the defining theme of “The Land”:
Now what Mitchell said was true. I did have a white daddy. He was a prosperous man, or at least he had been before the way. He owned a lot of land, and until a few years back he had owned his share of slaves too. My mama had been one of those slaves.
“The Land” covers Paul-Edward's life in great detail, from his early life on his father's estate. As Paul grows up his life goal is to own land like his father, and in his teenage years he leaves home in a fit of rebellion, determined to succeed in the real world on his own.
Though it was easy for Paul to leave home, he finds life on his own to be a lot harder than he had expected. In the racist atmosphere of the 1880's Paul is generally accepted by neither white nor black people. To make his dream of owning his own land come true Paul must find friends that truly care for him, viewing his as neither black nor white, but as a person.
In reading “The Land” I felt that the storyline had a very genuine feel to it. To a large extent this is because the plot is very closely tied to Mildred Taylor's actual family history. She ties in historical elements seamlessly, and isn't afraid to write the events exactly as they occurred. “The Land” is not watered down; it was not written with political correctness intended. Rather “The Land” is designed as a sort of family history to explain the background behind the events and characters in “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.”
I would recommend the entire award winning series by Mildred Taylor to older readers, both for its historical aspects and its discussion of racial issues.