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To help her granddaughter accept the risks of loving, Sadie Watson mines her memory for the tale of the unquenchable love of her life, Jim. Sadie’s Jim was an ambitious young slave and seer who, when faced with the prospect of being sold, escaped down the Mississippi with a white boy named Huck Finn. Sadie is suddenly left alone, worried about her children, reviled as a witch, punished for Jim’s escape, and convinced her husband is dead. But Sadie’s will and her love for Jim animate her life and see her through.
Told with spare eloquence and mirroring the true stories of countless slave women, My Jim recreates one of the most controversial characters in American literature. A nuanced critique of the great American novel, My Jim is a haunting and inspiring story about freedom, longing, and the remarkable endurance of love.
Praise for My Jim:
"Rawles turns an American classic on its head with this story of Sadie Watson, the wife Jim left behind when he joined Huck Finn on his adventure down the Mississippi. As a child, Sadie helps deliver Jim in a tobacco field. Her mother, the midwife, comforts his mother, "This baby might buy you freedom, one day." As an adult, Jim is obsessed with that freedom, but his schemes are continually thwarted. Once he and Sadie "jump the broom," he refuses to leave without his family. Circumstances change when their master, Watson, dies and Sadie and her children are sold. When Jim tries to visit her, he is caught and beaten, and finally runs away. His hat is found floating on the Mississippi, and he is feared drowned. Sadie, however, never gives up hoping for his return. My Jim is a love story. But it is also a vivid portrayal of Jim's other life-harsh at times, poignant at others. Even young adults unfamiliar with Huckleberry Finn's companion will find Rawles's tale moving and real. The author creates a heartbreaking world where farewells to husbands, wives, and children are common."--School Library Journal
"In a spare, naturalistic style that's reminiscent of oral history... Rawles covers territory Twain did not: Jim's early life in captivity, his seemingly endless struggle for freedom, his love for his wife and children, his impossible anguish upon separation.... Certainly if The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is presented to school children as their introduction to American slavery, as it sometimes has been in the past, then the deeply felt and moving My Jim would be a welcome accompanyment." —The New York Times Book Review
"Here, finally, is the Jim we can only glimpse between hijinks and humiliations in Huck Finn—a man who's clever and tender, romantic and tragic. And there's just no escaping his wife's voice. I read some chapters without blinking."—The Christian Science Monitor