Steal Away Hardcover – Apr 1992
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I would rate the book Steal Away by Jennifer Armstrong with a fie star rating. I would rate it with this rating because of the time frame and how well it fit in with the characters. The whole book was just astonishing. The sense were just so really you would never want to put the book down. The book just went together so well. I loved this book, and all the details that it contents. The author really made all the events that dealt with discrimination. Also the belief that Susannah had for the black slave was so beautiful and that shows that some people really do care. I have not really read any books that really went along with this story but in the future will be filled with more of these types of books. The way that people were treated in the past and still today just makes the biggest different in the people that are here today. People to this day don't realize that all people have feelings and do care. The way blacks and slaves were treated in the past is just the biggest mess. "How can the slaves make a living if the whites just give then the bare minute?" asked Susannah. Well the answers to that one little question was answered but the people that didn't care. In ways the people cared it was just against the peoples beliefs to speak of.
Thirteen-year-old Susannah is suddenly orphaned and forced to leave the family farm in Vermont, with all its precious memories of her parents, the boy next door, and her carefree existence. She must travel by train (an ordeal in itself) down to a new world, in Virginia, to the farm of her Reverend uncle, who firmly believes in the insitution of slavery. But Susannah will never fit into this genteel Southern society; she does not even know how to treat or address her own personal slave!
Longing to put plantation life and its immoral abuse of dark-skinned human beings behind her forever, spunky Susannah resolves to run away and sneak back to the only home she has ever known. But she needs the help of more worldy-wise Bethlehem, to prepare for this dangerous enterprise. Suddenly circumstances force both girls to depart together, with a minimum of preparation. Beth longs for Canada--a place on a map where there is no slavery.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2003
this book is inappropriate for use with Elementary school students in class. It discusses some sensitive topicsPublished on Sept. 29 2003
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. Read morePublished on June 13 2003 by ...Loggie...
"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... Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2002 by MAB
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. Read more
One day Gran & Mary go to Toronto to visit and old friend named Beth, a free slave. They plan to write the story of how they got to freedom in Vermont. Read morePublished on March 27 2001 by rivergate56
Ms. Armstrong takes the reader into the heart of tension between slavery and abolition, white and black, young and old. Read morePublished on Aug. 22 2000
I really did like this book but it was very confusing. It jumped back and fourth from place to place a lot and I often got confused. Read more