Adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings
Dana and her husband Kevin are unpacking into their new home in 1970s Los Angeles. Suddenly, she is inexplicably transported to pre-Civil War south and saves a young boy who is drowning in a river. She returns to her home shortly after and has no way of explaining to Kevin why she is soaking wet. A short while later, she is transported again to the boy's bedroom, where he is setting fire to his drapes. Through talking with the boy, she realizes that he is part of her ancestry, as the slave owner who fathered her great-grandmother. Dana is transported back and forth several times, with Kevin hurriedly coming with her on one occasion. They realize that Dana is taken back any time Rufus' life is in danger, and she is returned home when her life is in danger. Through many trips to Rufus' plantation and discussion with slaves and slave owners, Dana becomes a part of life, with all the horrors that slavery possess. She is beaten on several occasions, nurses other beaten slaves back to health, helps Rufus in obtaining the slave woman he desires, and tries to teach the children how to read.
From an NPR story on Butler's writing, "Butler often said she was inspired to write it when she heard young black people minimize the severity of slavery, and strongly assert what they would or would not have tolerated if they were enslaved. She wanted them to not only know the facts of slavery, but how slavery felt." This graphic novel picks up that torch and runs further with it. The illustrations by John Jennings truly make the reader feel the savagery of slavery. I read this book in one sitting because I was riveted and had to see how Dana would survive, but it is not for the feint of heart, and there are some really dark and brutal moments. I felt Dana's terror, her pain from the lashings, the broken bones, and I seethed anger at her captors and the treatment they bestowed on other human beings. This graphic novel is a wonderful and faithful adaptation that brings this important story into a new medium, stretching its influence and power to more audiences.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 10-12
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: High School, Graphic Literature, Historical Fiction, Adaptations
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