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Song Yet Sung

by James McBride

Song Yet Sung by James McBride X
Song Yet Sung by James McBride
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2008, 368 pages
    Jan 2009, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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Kate O'Donnell

Good dreams and live nightmares
The first page offered surprising futuristic ideas, compelling me to continue reading. However, as soon as the author referred to the "eastern shore" not capitalizing E and S, I had my doubts but was willing to allow for his choice of designation for the nine counties east of the Chesapeake Bay. I found his character development unusually diverse and rich, and shortly I was able to picture Liz, Linus, Lenwood, Kathleen, Amber, Clarence and the Patty Cannon gang as though I knew them personally. Knowing Dorchester County's topography as I do, it's very doubtful that in any setting would I have found or written about rocks since those marshes have none. Also the boat McBride calls a Bungy (as in bungy cord) is spelled pungee and Pete Lesher of CBMM should have clarified that point. Late in the story, Lenwood mentions the availability of whore houses in St. Michael's and Crisfield, Md. In 1850 (pre Civil War) Crisfield was known as Anamessex or Sommer's Cove, and not until the 1880s was it renamed in honor of John Crisfield, a Kent County native, who became a proponent of the railroad coming to the southern tip of Somerset County, Md.
Despite such errors, the description of the times, temper and terrain in which this tale is told are credible. His taking it on makes this a valuable read for anyone wishing to read an account of slavery and those who sought to flee it without the sugar coating often found in other accounts of these antebellum years on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Song Yet Sung
I recently read this book over a two day period. As a lover of historical fiction I always enjoy a story that takes me to a different place. This time I was taken to the Maryland Eastern Shore of the 1850's. We learn about this self contained community, their interactions with each other, and what outsiders thought about them. The main character Liz Spocott has a rule to play in our country's history that she is not aware of, nor are the other characters in the story, but as a reader of our times you will recognize it.

This story also introduces us to Patty Cannon, a real person who actually lived and was a slave stealer.

I recommend this book to those who like historical fiction.
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