From the tales of Peter Rabbit to the tales of Cora in The Underground Railroad, I cannot remember a time when I haven't had my nose in a book. Even during my teenage years when reading was decidedly 'uncool' I still feverishly devoured literature, albeit secretly. This I now find very sad. Why is reading something for the nerds and bof's? Why is reading seen as something boring people do? I feel sad for people who choose not to read, who don't have the joy of books in their life. Their power to effortlessly transport you to anywhere but where you are is something everyone should experience at least once in their life.

There have been a number of books along the way that have stuck with me, books so good and so gripping upon finishing, you wished you hadn't read them so you could enjoy the whole experience once again. The aforementioned Peter Rabbit was ever present in my childhood years. Noughts & Crosses, Harry Potter and any and all Jacqueline Wilson novels littered my teenage years. Whilst anything from Little Women to Pulitzer Prize winning fiction to Fifty Shades Of Grey (yup I read them along with the rest of the female population) are framing my adult life. Some are simply a guilty pleasure, a quick 'easy read', others, like The Underground Railroad are all consuming. A book I will forgo the latest episode of Liar to read, a book that was read in two days and a book that I have been telling anyone that will listen about. It was the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner and counts Barack Obama as a fan meaning my endorsement kind of pales in comparison; I'm going to give it to you nonetheless. 

Cora, the story's main protagonist, lives a hellish existence as a slave on a cotton plantation. An outcast even amongst her fellow Africans it doesn't take long for Cora to take up the offer of escapism from a slave new to the plantation. The story follows Cora at each stage of her journey; just as she seems to have found a safe haven she is dealt another blow pushing her further into the unknown during a particular dark period of history.

Within minutes your heart is with Cora, you hurt with her and feel her hope as though it is your own.  Cora's is not the only story told and Colson Whitehead manages to effortlessly move back and forth ensuring the stories of the other characters build upon Cora's own. It is completely unapologetic; choosing not to hide any of the harrowing details of the time. This is done with such skill as to not feel forced but necessary. It does make you wonder about the world that we live in and, quite frankly, the brutality of mankind. I know this may sound daunting but don't be put off! It is a thoroughly gripping tale that will stay with you for all the right reasons. 

Can Cora ever find true freedom?

I hope you have a read and if you have read this book already please do let me know what you thought of it in the comments below! 

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