Day of Tears by Julius Lester


Easy to read, but not easy to forget

Julius Lester, in Day of Tears, weaves together the haunting story of an actual historical event occuring in Savannah, Georgia - the largest slave auction in American history.  Pierce Butler auctions off the majority of his slaves because of his mounting gambling debts.  The slaves have lived on the Butler plantation with their families for generations.  Through dialogue, Lester effectively relays the horrors of slavery and the tragic aftermath that occurs to all of the people who participated that day.  Lester’s writing in this novel may seem simple at first, but it quickly becomes emotionally charged.  The reader will feel as if he is experiencing the emotional losses, the degradation, the sorrow,  and the cruelty as he reads about the experiences of several people attending the slave auction from multiple viewpoints :  the slaveowner, slaveowner’s ex-wife, slaveowner’s children, slave seller,  several slaves sold at the auctions (young and old), the mother and father of a slave sold, a slave couple desperately in love who are separated, etc.  Lester uses both historical fact and fictitious details to demonstrate how all people were deeply impacted by that fateful rainy day on March 2nd and 3rd, 1859.

This book is highly recommended.