Reviews of 47 by Walter Mosley

47 by Walter Mosley X
47 by Walter Mosley
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 240 pages

    Paperback:
    Nov 2006, 240 pages

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Book Summary

Mosley deftly weaves historical and speculative fiction into a powerful narrative about the nature of freedom.

A gripping Young Adult fiction debut by bestselling author Walter Mosley.

Walter Mosley is one of the best known writers in America. In his first book for young adults, Mosley deftly weaves historical and speculative fiction into a powerful narrative about the nature of freedom. 47 is a young slave boy living under the watchful eye of a brutal slave master. His life seems doomed until he meets a mysterious run-away slave, Tall John. Then 47 finds himself swept up in a struggle for his own liberation.

1.

I lived as a slave on the Corinthian Plantation my whole life up to the time that Tall John ran out of the back woods and into my life. I have no idea exactly how long the time before Tall John might have been, but I was most likely about fourteen years old at that time. Slaves didn't have birthday parties like the white children of Master or the white folk that either worked for Master or lived on the larder of his home.

Slaves didn't have birthday parties and so they didn't have ages like the white people did. Big Mama Flore always said that "White peoples gots as many ages as you can count but slaves on'y gots four ages. That's babychile, boy or girl, old boy or old girl, an' dead."

I loved Big Mama Flore. She was round and soft and always gave me a big hug in the morning. She was one of the only ones who ever showed me ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About This Book

An orphaned youth, born into slavery, discovers that his brutal circumstances need not prevent him from taking the inner journey to self-awareness and personal responsibility that ultimately define freedom.

When the cruel plantation owner determines that 47—a fourteen year-old who has never been given a proper name—is old enough to labor as a field slave, 47 is suddenly immersed in the adult world of abject bondage. Soon after, he meets an adolescent runaway, Tall John.

Totally unlike many other memorable characters crafted in brilliant novels set in the Antebellum South, Tall John has run to slavery through worlds unfathomed. 47 embarks on a fast-paced human drama and "scientific"...
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Full Review (170 words).

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Media Reviews

Booklist - Hazel Rochman
Gr. 7-10. The magical realism allows for some plot contrivance, but Mosley brings the harsh facts and anguish very close, and the first-person narrative shows and tells how "slavery is the most unbelievable part of this whole story.

Publishers Weekly
Equal parts history and tall tale, this engaging story related by an endearing narrator is so full of dramatic tension that few readers will realize they're learning something, too. Ages 12-up.

Reader Reviews

Bertha Lipanda

47 by Walter Mosley
It a really good book that keeps you engaged all the time as you read it.
Leaha

Perfect
I am doing a fiction book report, and this is by far the best book I have ever read. I really am glad I picked this book for my class.
Shay

A really good book!
I consider this book as one of the best books that I have read so far.
Nancy Jones

An Excellent Depiction of Slavery with a Unique Twist
This was one of the best YA books I read! The depiction of the abuses of slavery was very realistic. The main character was a slave boy who was sent to work in the fields after he finally reached a certain age. Before he had been in the main house...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

High John The Conqueror

According to Mosley, "Tall John himself is a reflection of an old slave myth about a spirit named High John the Conqueror. High John, the myth goes, came from Africa to confound the white masters and to ultimately free the slaves." 

Zora Neale Hurston writes of High John de Conquer (pronounced conker) in The Sanctified Church, a collection of essays on Afro-American folklore, legend and myth with a particular focus on the spiritual character of the Southern Black Christian Church.  She depicts him as a trickster/shaman figure (similar to Anansi and Br'er Rabbit) who is said to have been an African prince sold into slavery in the Americas, but whose spirit was never broken.

Another traditional story is told byVirginia Hamilton, in ...

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