Historical, Makes You Think, Women, World Literature

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer


The master of the Providence plantation in Barbados gathers his slaves and announces the king has decreed an end to slavery. As of the following day, the Emancipation Act of 1834 will come into effect. The cries of joy fall silent when he announces that they are no longer his slaves; they are now his apprentices. No one can leave. They must work for him for another six years. Freedom is just another name for the life they have always lived. So Rachel runs.

Away from Providence, she begins a desperate search to find her children—the five who survived birth and were sold. Are any of them still alive? Rachel has to know. The grueling, dangerous journey takes her from Barbados then, by river, deep into the forest of British Guiana and finally across the sea to Trinidad. She is driven on by the certainty that a mother cannot be truly free without knowing what has become of her children, even if the answer is more than she can bear. These are the stories of Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. But above all this is the story of Rachel and the extraordinary lengths to which a mother will go to find her children…and her freedom.

My Thoughts

This stunning novel will take you on an emotional journey that you will not soon forget. The experiences of mothers, fathers, children, and siblings born into slavery and ripped away from each other are just too horrific to fully understand, and Shearer skillfully conveys the raw emotions – rage, heartbreak, despair but also hope, love, and resilience – experienced by Rachel, her children, and her allies. Rachels’ story drives home the capacity for humans to torture each other physically and mentally, and that makes this a difficult book to read. However, it is also ultimately a story of redemption and reunification driven by the incandescent love of a mother for her children. This is a book that will change you.

A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • This beautiful, page-turning and redemptive story of a mother’s gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery is a “celebration of motherhood and female resilience” (The Observer).

“A powerful novel that explores how freedom and family are truly defined”—Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Personal Librarian

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by Real Simple, Goodreads, AARP, Boston.com, BookBub and BookRiot

Her search begins with an ending.…

Publication Date: January 31, 2023
Published By: Berkley Publishing Group
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy