Set in Maryland prior to the Civil War, this coming of age tale of thirteen-year-old Robert Glover is packed with action, adventure, laughter, and tears. We join Robert and his family at their home in Elkton, Maryland, where his father, Charles, works as overseer on a Quaker farm. Mr. Heath, Charles employer, freed his slaves, and now pays them to work the land alongside Charles and Robert. Roberts mother Caroline hails from a prominent slave holding family in North Carolina, and loyalties are challenged when The Underground Railroad is nearly discovered in Roberts area.Many secrets are revealed the summer Robert turns thirteen, including the fact that Mr. Heath and Roberts father work with The Underground Railroad. William Henry, son of freed slaves that work for Mr. Heath, is Roberts best friend. Robert and William Henry grew up together, but until that summer, William Henry has a better idea than Robert of why skin color matters. Robert also meets his North Carolina relatives that year, which further clarifies his growing convictions concerning slavery. Will Robert step up and fill the shoes his Grandfather wants him to fill as sole heir of the North Carolina family plantation? Or will Robert join his father in the Underground Railroad?Cathy Gohlke paints an inspiring and realistic portrait of life just prior to the Civil War. Roberts story serves to richly illuminate the past while entertaining the reader. The books informative and entertaining value will appeal to ages 12-100. It would also be a wonderful teaching tool for those studying American history. This book is a marvelous testimony to the genre of historical fiction. In my opinion, this book is a winner!
Cathy Gohlkes William Henry is a Fine Name is exquisitely written with a compelling story that will resonate with YA and adult readers. I came away challenged to look at my life in a different way. William Henry is a beautiful reminder of what is honorable and worthy.
Cathy Gohlke won the Christy award in 2007 for her first novel, William Henry is a Fine Name. I cant imagine a more deserving story. Thirteen-year-old Robert Glover loves fishing and skunking and skinny-dipping with his best friend William Henry in Elkton, Maryland, 1859. Life is just as good as it can be, except for the howling dogs that wake him at night, his parents muffled arguments, and his fathers middle-of-the-night disappearances. Robert discovers his father is involved in helping slaves flee the south, and his motherhaving grown up on a tobacco plantation in North Carolinaviews slavery as a natural part of life. Roberts mother receives word her father is dying, and she and Robert travel to North Carolina. Robert has never met his grandfather, but once the man is healthy, Robert cannot help but dislike him. He sees cruelty he never imagined on Grandfathers tobacco plantation. Back home, slaves are free, but in North Carolina, they are property. Robert must choose between his parents differing beliefs, and his grandfathers new affection. He searches to know what is right and what, if anything, he can do about it.I found this book touching and fascinating. I felt as if I was experiencing the Underground Railroad myself. Roberts character is so real and his journey and growth so powerful, he becomes a friend. I want to read more about his life and the wonderful way he lives it and am thrilled there is a sequel, I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires. I highly recommended this novel.
Thirteen-year-old Robert was raised in a family divided on the issue of slavery. As he grows up he must decide where he stands and what he will do about it. Through the actiond of his best friend William, time spent in the south with his grandfather, and seeing the affects of slavery, Robert decides to become involved with the Underground Railroad. Cathy Gohlke's first novel is a beautifully written and powerful story that can be enjoyed by mature teens and adults. The characters and events are so moving they will stay with you long after you finish the book.