Title: Good Fortune
Author: Noni Carter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Concepts: Slavery, discrimination, child schooling and work, segregation, human resources, social justice.
Review: Brutally stolen from her African homeland at the age of four and sold into slavery on a cotton plantation in Tennessee, Ayanna (Anna) Bahati could not find relief from the recurrent nightmares of her abduction. As soon as she was old enough, Anna began toiling endless days of hard physical labor working the cotton fields. This grueling schedule changed somewhat when Anna was about fourteen and Aunt Mary, the mother figure who cared for her on the plantation, convinced the Missus to allow Anna to spend some of the day performing housework and watching the children.
Although slaves were forbidden to get an education, Anna used her work with the children as an opportunity to learn how to read and write, which in turn fortified her desire to escape to freedom. Escape she did, under traumatic circumstances that left the young man she loved behind. With intense determination and some assistance from strangers, Anna found her way to a free black community in Ohio. Although she found a way to make a living, Anna soon realized that entrenched segregation and hostility against blacks meant that injustices such as the lack of education could continue, even in a free state. Anna would need to push the boundaries, at the risk of grave danger, to live the life of freedom she had yearned.
Carefully researched, this debut novel from Noni Carter provides readers with a stark depiction of the abhorrent conditions that enslaved Africans endured during their passage across the ocean and their forced labor on American plantations. Readers will be drawn to the courage and spirit of the lead character, a young woman who found inspiration from the written word and from the grace of people she knew she could trust.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children