Ayanna Bahati was born in Africa in 1807. But at just four years old, she is cruelly torn from her mother’s arms as her mother is brutally murdered. Ayanna is then packed onto a slave ship bound for America. She is sold to a plantation in Tennessee, where her name is changed to Sarah.
Sarah is taken under wing by a wise slave woman named Aunt Mary and raised alongside her son, Daniel. In all aspects other than blood, Mary and Daniel become Sarah’s new mother and brother. Sarah falls into the backbreaking --- and spirit breaking --- routines of life on a plantation. And though she suffers from reoccurring nightmares of her abduction in Africa and the torturous boat ride across the ocean, she doesn’t recall much from her life before slavery. But she does remember two things: the precious gift of her mother’s love, and the precious gift of freedom.
Sarah starts out working in the fields but later on receives new orders to care for the master’s two young children. In the days that follow, she listens as the kids recite their school lessons, and the seed of knowledge is planted: she begins to dream of getting an education. Slowly and secretly, Sarah consumes the lessons that the children practice, snatches bits and pieces overheard outside the school room window, and devotes what little free time she has to practice writing letters in the dirt. She even teaches herself to read. But this tiny sip of knowledge just makes her thirst for more.
Then when Sarah is 14, she overhears Daniel making plans to escape. Sarah never forgot what freedom tasted like, and with the master’s oldest son threatening Sarah with rape, now is the right time to run. They break free from the plantation and run for their lives towards freedom. But Sarah soon finds out that freedom is a lot more complicated than just stepping over the state line.
Noni Carter’s debut novel is a powerful story filled with inspiration, hope, courage, love and determination. Carter introduces a cast of dynamic characters, the spirit burning inside of them, and the courage they find to live their lives in freedom will inspire all who share in their story. Her display of characters also proves just how capable humans can be of cruelty --- but also of kindness. Ayanna’s quest for an education reminds us how most Americans take education for granted; maybe Carter’s words will renew our own thirst for knowledge.
GOOD FORTUNE is an amazing journey of one woman’s search for freedom, in every sense of the word. It is also a shining example of never giving up on one’s dreams no matter how impossible they may seem. Carter is an exceptionally talented writer, definitely one to keep an eye on and to reserve space for on your bookshelves.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on January 5, 2010
- Publication Date: January 4, 2011
- Genres: Historical Fiction
- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
- ISBN-10: 141698481X
- ISBN-13: 9781416984818