The Good Lord Bird

The Good Lord Bird

Book - 2013
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Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, the region a battlefield between anti and pro slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an arguement between Brown and Henry's master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town with Brown, who believes Henry is a girl. Over the next months, Henry conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. He finds himeself with Brown at the historic raid on Harper's Ferry, one of the catalysts for the civil war.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Group (USA), 2013.
ISBN: 9781594486340
1594486344
Branch Call Number: FIC McBri
Characteristics: 417 pages

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k
kmcdouall
Jan 27, 2020

Abolitionist John Brown is a larger-than-life figure in this lively adventure that manages to combine humor with deadly serious events in the prelude to the Civil War. The protagonist is a gender-bending child, formerly a slave, who somewhat reluctantly takes up with Brown's band of abolitionists. This boy has no trouble passing as a girl, which provides both safety and increased risks, depending on the situation. The novel keeps up a relentless pace and gives the reader a sense of being pulled into the whirlwind of events, while threatening to submerge its characters in the eccentricities, if not madness, of John Brown and his singular vision. For a realistic fictional portrayal of John Brown, go to Russell Banks's Cloudsplitter. For a unique perspective that feels more like a carnival ride, read this book.

e
EljayJohnson
Jan 05, 2020

This was a funny book and I don't understand that. It's the story of the famed abolitionist John Brown (whose body lies a-moldering in the grave, etc.) and his companion, a rescued child slave nicknamed the Onion. It's a first person account told by the Onion and while certainly well-written (the Onion has a very particular voice), I don't understand the satire/farce. I wish I could give McBride a call and ask him what his thinking is here, particularly the awful caricature of Frederick Douglass. For me, the entire enterprise was both oddly engaging and inexplicable.

t
tdixon18
May 23, 2018

Avail at NKC

b
brianhaight
Jul 07, 2017

Both leading characters in this novel, the historical figure John Brown the abolitionist and his fictitious sidekick the story's narrator Onion or rather Henrietta or should I say Henry Shackleford, bring significant amounts of comic and sarcastic quality to this retelling of Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry and the events leading up to it. McBride cleverly brings this tragic historical story and time period to life by using humor and southern black vernacular language with its colloquialisms and idioms​.

Find an excellent full review of the book at apogeejournal.org.

http://apogeejournal.org/2014/01/23/finding-humor-in-horror-james-mcbrides-the-good-lord-bird/​

"The Good Lord Bird will be most deeply resonant with those with some connection to the legacy of slavery, either personal or intellectual. If you have studied and read about the institution widely, especially works that depict its violence and dehumanization–Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Robert Hayden’s Middle Passage, Frederick Douglass’s Autobiography, Alex Haley’s Roots–the full force of McBride’s wit and withering commentary will not be lost on you. "

p
PJD
May 25, 2017

I think I learned something about slavery. I'd never heard of John Brown but my husband knew who he was, and now I know ,too.

a
athena14
Nov 18, 2016

McBride falsely presents Frederick Douglass as a child molester.

r
rebmartin31
Jun 01, 2016

A refreshingly humorous piece of historical fiction here.

c
CindyMurrill
May 10, 2016

I highly recommend this book! It is a fascinating read with insight into aspects of our history, areas of the country, sexism, race interactions and just plain zaniness of life as imaged by the author. It clearly told a story that sets the stage for the civil war.
The dialect was a bit slow and tedious early on for me, but (as usual) it became common sense in no time.

l
lees_boeke
Apr 20, 2016

This is a great read. The dialogue is refreshing compared to most new fiction. On a deeper level it's fascinating to watch how various African American characters treat one another and interact with one another.

b
becker
Mar 20, 2015

I wasn't sure how I felt about this book in the beginning. It seemed wordy and a bit repetitive, but I developed a respect for the story and the author as the book continued. This was a crazy and incredible time in history and the legendary John Brown was quite a character. I think the author did a good job capturing the essence of the time and the man. The lingo was very well done.

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rebmartin31
Jun 02, 2016

"I was born a colored man and don't you forget it. But I lived as a colored woman for seventeen years."

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