The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead



I have only heard good things about this book so far. Won the National Book Award and is Opera’s book club pick. So for Black History Month I decided this would be a good pick( one of many). Yes this review is really late, I wrote my thoughts down right away then wanted to think about it some more before I posted a review.

The plot I found to be interesting. It is a slave narrative, with the main character a girl named Cora. She is somewhat of an outcast amongst the other slaves on the plantation, which meant an even more brutal life for her. A new arrival named Caesar told her about the Underground Railroad, which would be a very dangerous escape. The story follows her run from the slave catcher Ridgeway, looking for freedom up north.

Alright now for my thoughts. Well I might be alone on this one…. buuuuut I didn’t like this book. As you guys can see above I gave this book two stars. I went into this book with pretty high hopes, which made it all the more disappointing. It wasn’t by any means the topic of the book, I wasn’t expecting some happy, feel good story. I do get that it is supposed to be dark novel,  and it is atrocious how African Americans were treated. I just wanted to clarify that wasn’t the issue I had with the book.

One of the issues I had with the book was the writing, it just wan’t for me. I found it to be what I would describe as clunky. I also felt it to be really heavy on the narrative, it felt like I was being told rather than being shown, which I’m just not a huge fan of. Another main issue is that I wasn’t attached to the protagonist Cora, all I felt towards her was meh. I’m not to sure how else to explain it, I just wasn’t emotionally attached to the character (positive or negatively).

What I did like was the idea for the plot. I loved the idea of the literal underground railroad. I thought that was such a good idea, I was expecting more of a chase through the underground rail road.

I know most people fell in love with this book it seems, but it just didn’t seem to be for me. Maybe it’s me and not the book, or I just didn’t seem to get what everyone else was taking from it. Have you guys read this book or anything else by Colson Whitehead? Right now I don’t think I will try anything else by this author.


9 thoughts on “The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead”

  1. I love this review! You know me, I enjoy seeing those reviews that oppose popular opinion because it is nice to look at titles from all possible angles 🙂 I think this is the first review that sheds some less than stellar light on this title that I have found. I get exactly what you mean about the writing not being for you. Atwood and I have the same relationship. She is adored and written several admirable titles, but I cannot connect with her style. Thanks for sharing this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! I actually have this in my TBR ..because of all the praise it as getting and all those nominations/awards it got. I do like stories around this subject, and I think I’ll still give it a shot just for the story. Hopefully the writing style won’t be a huge burden :O Thanks for sharing this review! Very interesting things to watch out for when I try it out myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am reading this now for a book group I was invited to be a guest at – I am half way through and am totally agreeing with you! The writing is not drawing me in – I am struggling to get through it. Glad to know I am not alone!

    Liked by 1 person

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