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Steal Away [Hardcover]

Jennifer Armstrong
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1992
1896, Susannah, Bethlehem, Mary and Free. Two women in their 50s, two girls 13--drawn together to write down the story of the women's 1855 escape from a slaveholding farm in Virginia. Susannah's guardian is Bethlehem's "master"--a minister and advocate of slavery. When the women are themselves 13, mistress and slave defiantly join forces to steal away North to freedom. Bethlehem, 1855: "It was a longer road that I had ever guessed, and I am on it still." Her road is ours.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In the fall of 1896 elderly Susannah McKnight coaxes her granddaughter Mary to travel with her to Canada to visit someone Mary regards as an "old slave woman." Mary's vision of Bethlehem Reid is shattered, however, when she hears an amazing story of undying friendship and courage. As young girls Susannah and Bethlehem helped each other escape to the North: for Bethlehem, freedom; for Susannah, a return to the home she loved. Rich and emotionally resonant, this compelling, true story is told in compassionate, lush language; delighting not only in its poetic imagery and uncompromising clarity of expression but in the suspense and adventure of the girls' flight to personal liberty. Bethlehem and Susannah's friendship, born of circumstance and necessity, is never sentimentalized but remains fierce and heartbreaking to the last. This powerful, moving and thought-provoking narrative is sure to stay with readers long after it is finished. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-- The title comes from a spiritual used as a signal to slaves that the time had come for them to make a run for freedom. Susannah, 13, thinks about such matters in the abstract until the year her parents die and she is taken to Virginia to live with her uncle's family. She believes that slavery is wrong, and matters are made worse when she is given a slave, Bethlehem. Susannah befriends her, teaches her to read, and then asks her help getting back to Vermont. While the story line is occasionally unrealistic--the girls have much too easy a time running north, for example--its strength lies in its unstinting examination of emotions. Bethlehem deals with her hatred of slavery, her resentment of the white girl, and her need to go on to Canada rather than to stay with Susannah, now a friend. Susannah must come to terms with her feelings about the black race. And her granddaughter, to whom the story is told, finds her own eyes opened and her prejudices exposed. Characterization of the main heroines is sound, although the secondary players never come to life. Despite the facile surface, the issues explored in this book run deep. When read with William Katz's Breaking the Chains (Atheneum, 1990), this will go a long way toward explicating the damage done by slavery. --Ann Welton, Thomas Academy, Kent, WA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Until the summer of that year, I had hardly traveled beyond my own neighborhood of Gramercy Park in New York City. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Steal Away Oct. 22 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I did not like the book because it was confusing to read, they went back and forth from when Susannah was a little girl, then a grandmother. I would recommend this to an older boy or girl. But I was happy they both made it to where the wanted to go, and wasn't killed or taken back to Virginia.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Steal Away Oct. 20 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
My book that I am presenting to you is Steal Away. Steal Away is about two women named Susannah and Bethelehem. Susannah's uncle owns Bethelehem because she is a slave. Susannah and Bethelehem are trying to get to Vermont from Virginia. On foot trying to get away from war. Susannah's uncle died. On their way to Vermont they meet somebody and they suggest that they should go to Canada. The main characters in this story are Susannah and Bethelem. Both of them I think are really brave,caring,and strong women. I think they're strong because they knew that they didn't have any transportation except their feet and they took advantage of it. I would recommend this book to people who like adventurest books about the Civil War. I think if someone who did like books like that would say that this is the best book they ever read in their life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Steal Away Oct. 19 2003
Format:Paperback
Book Report By: Tevin Reeves
Steal Away
By: Jennifer Armstrong
This book is about two girls named Susannah and Bethlehem. They are running away
from a southern plantation. Susannah is an orphan who is trying to run back to Vermont where
she used to live. Bethlehem is a slave who is trying to run to Canada to be free.
They both made it to their destinations, and both are talking to Mary about their run away.
The main character in this book is Susannah. Susannah is the main character because
in the story she was being strong and powerful. To me, I really think she was a good run away
the way she was acting like a boy. When she got that big cut on her hand, she did not
really act like a girl. She was also a nice girl because she taught Bethlehem how to read.
The main character, Susannah has a problem. The problem is Bethlehem and Susannah trying to
not get caught while they are running away. They are also trying to stay together and not get mad
at each other and break apart. This was the kind of problem that if you didn't have good friendship,
you would probably would get in trouble by the people who they ran away from .
To the problems, Susannah had a good friendship with Bethlehem. They had a couple of arguements, but
did not split up. They did not get caught, although they did see people who helped them out. Also, in their
arguements, they really didn't get mad, they settled it and then went on
with their runaway. So that means they didn't break up.
My opinion on this book is that I think this book is a good book. I would also recommend this book to
others because I like the book. I like this book because I think it's a kind of book that shows how to
have good friendship. That is the reason I would recommend this book. I also think it is an interesting book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars steal away to freedom Sept. 29 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
this book is inappropriate for use with Elementary school students in class. It discusses some sensitive topics
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4.0 out of 5 stars not the best historical fiction June 13 2003
Format:Paperback
The book was written well, but in a confusing format. Mary is writing down a story from her grandmother's childhood, with help from a girl named Free. The book however starts with a message from Mary to Free written later when they had grown up. This letter, and the one at the end as well, confused me and threw me off.
The story being told is, as I said, about Mary's Grandmother. She was born in Vermont in a time before slavery was abolished. This is the story of how when her parents died she was sent to live in Virginia with her slave owning, preacher uncle. The fact that a preacher owns slaves confuses her because she has grown up in Vermont, and she is further set off balance by being given a slave named Bethlehem. They decide to run away, and throughout their travels you can't tell if they are friends or people who are determined that the other is a burden on them.
For better historical fiction I suggest Ann Rinaldi
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2.0 out of 5 stars A big disappointment. Sept. 3 2002
By MAB
Format:School & Library Binding
"Steal Away" was not what I expected. I expected more adventure and bonding between Beth and Susannah - I couldn't quite understand if they were true friends or mere acquaintances who went through a trying experience. The concept of going back and forth from the "past" to the "present" was interesting and different, but couldn't save this book. The relationship between Mary and Free was also confusing. I came to the conclusion that they were not fond of each other, because of Free's bitterness. The beginning and ending letter added to the confusion and the "unspoken" words and emotions made me reread paragraphs to fully understand what happened. The plot and the way the story was constructed was enjoyable, but the writing style used by Armstrong was annoying. I do not recommend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Steal Away Nov. 19 2001
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
Steal Away
A slave and a white girl both running for freedom.

This book is about two girls that become best friends. One is a slave named Bethlehem. The other is Susannah a white girl that moved from a free state to a slave state. They become good friends and soon decide to run away to Vermont to start a new life. On the way there are many complications. Will they make it to Vermont, and when they get there what will happen? I really liked this book because there were a lot of things happening to the girls, and their friendship is so great it reminds me of my best friend and me.
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