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The Good Lord Bird

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Liev Schreiber and Jaden Smith
A Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Oprah Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year

“A magnificent new novel by the best-selling author James McBride.” –cover review of The New York Times Book Review

“Outrageously entertaining.” –USA Today
“James McBride delivers another tour de force” –Essence
“So imaginative, you’ll race to the finish.” –NPR.org
“Wildly entertaining.”—4-star People lead review
"A boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel.” – Washington Post

From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.


Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 03, 2013 – Musician and author McBride offers a fresh perspective on abolitionist firebrand John Brown in this novel disguised as the memoir of a slave boy who pretends to be a girl in order to escape pre Civil War turmoil, only to find himself riding with John Brown s retinue of rabble-rousers from Bloody Kansas to Harpers Ferry. I was born a colored man and don t you forget it, reminisces Henry Shackleford in a manuscript discovered after a church fire in the 1960s. Speaking in his own savvy yet na ve voice, Henry recounts how, at age 10, his curly hair, soft features, and potato-sack dress cause him to be mistaken for a girl a mistake he embraces for safety s sake, even as he is reluctantly swept up by Brown s violent, chaotic, determined, frustrated, and frustrating efforts to oppose slavery. A mix-up over the meaning of the word trim temporarily lands Henry/Henrietta in a brothel before he rejoins Brown and sons, who call him Onion, their good-luck charm. Onion eventually meets Frederick Douglass, a great man but a flawed human being, Harriet Tubman, silent, terrible, and strong. Even more memorable is the slave girl Sibonia, who courageously dies for freedom. At Harpers Ferry, Onion is given the futile task of rousting up slaves ( hiving bees ) to participate in the great armed insurrection that Brown envisions but never sees. Outrageously funny, sad, and consistently unflattering, McBride puts a human face on a nation at its most divided.

Customer Reviews

The Good Lord Bird

I have read many many books in my 68 years and I can honestly state that The Good Lord Bird uplifted me so very much that I paused for a minute or so and read it again. I believe that every person who has some unfounded resentment toward his fellow person white or of color should read this work so they may find understanding and peace.

Good Lord Bird

Good Lord Bird is an exceptional novel. The characters come to life and stay with you when you're away from the book. You think about Onion and Old John Brown, and Frederick and the others as you go about your day; anxious to get back to McBride's extraordinary writing. This is a story you won't want to end. It is triumphant throughout and entirely humorous.

Spellbinding Accomplishment

I think mcBride's novel has become one of my top ten novels. This is a history story that comes to life. The characters are unique and well defined. The pacing is perfect, suspenseful, and gripping. I had a hard time putting it down. Perhaps the author would consider a second novel about what happens to "Little Onion" in the years after the fateful event!

The Good Lord Bird
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  • $4.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: African American
  • Published: Aug 20, 2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 480 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings