By Andre Carter
AuthorHouse, $15.18, 294 pages
Beyond Crossriver is a story that has been told before, the story of the movement from slavery to freedom. In this novel, siblings Amanda and Thomas journey north to escape the overseers that have killed their family. They must elude overseers, bounty hunters and law enforcement. The chapters follow their journey. They stars off at Crossriver Plantation, move through Georgia and other southern states into Pennsylvania and end up in New York. This story has been told before—some stories, like those of the Holocaust and slavery, should be told again and again. Thomas, the protagonist, is a strong and sympathetic character, a slave who was educated by his owner’s wife. The escape is very detailed. So is Carter’s research into the era, the culture of plantations and steamships, the geography of the Mississippi River and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The emotional material, like Amanda’s despair, comes through well.
“All they wanted was to be free, as did everyone in the quarter. I do this for my family, my mother, my sisters, and those in my family before me.”
The book’s formatting is unusual. Part I is made up of 12 chapters. Part II has 24 chapters and Part III has 18 chapters. Paragraphs look like stanzas and the writing reads like verse. Editorial concerns include verb tense shifts, typos, and spelling errors which do distract from the story itself. The author does know which scenes of the escape to dramatize, but there is also a lot of space used on routine greetings that could be summarized. Overall, the author has a great story to tell.
Reviewed by Stacia Levy