Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Across The Wide River by Stephanie Reed~ review

Across the Wide River

Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications (November 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825435765
  • Review copy provided by Kregel Publishers
  • Want to buy this book? Click here.

My take on this book:
Across The Wide River is based on the Rankin family, a family who lived in Ohio that did their part to ensure that slaves made it safely to freedom.

We are introduced to young Lowry Rankin at the age of nine. He is content living in Kentucky and can't understand why his abolitionist preaching father would want to move to Ohio, but all that changes when Lowry witnesses his best friend Sherwood,  a slave, being brutally beaten. He decides he can't wait to live in Ohio,a free state so that he will never have to see anyone suffer the way his friend Sherwood did. His first day of school in Ohio has him in a fight with a bully who makes fun of Lowry's Ky accent, causing Lowry to become self conscious and deciding to only speak when spoken to. He is rescued from the fight by Amanda Kaphart, and quickly becomes smitten with her. Lowry quickly is labeled as shy, so his father decides to give him some responsibility to help bolster his confidence. The responsibility is helping in the "family business" of the Underground Railroad. Lowry's father also hopes that perhaps Lowry will become a preacher as well, but that's the last thing that Lowry wants to do.Will Lowry follow in his fathers footsteps, and will he continue his work with the Underground Railroad?
I felt as if this was a coming of age story for young Lowry Rankin. We follow his life from the age of nine until he hits his twenties. Lowry was a young man that was so easy to connect with. He dealt with self esteem issues often wondering whether what he did really mattered, but many around him envied him for doing what he believed in. He was a brave young man that didn't realize just how brave he was. I loved the fact that he was rescued from a bully by a girl, and fell in love with that girl. 

Based on the real life family of the Rankin's for me this book was easy to connect with because it takes place in areas that I am totally familiar with. It was easy to see that the author did her research with the story, and did an amazing job of bringing a tumultuous time in history to life inside the pages of this story. I am always in awe of the people who bravely did the right things to help slaves have a chance for freedom regardless of the danger of being caught. While I had never heard of the Rankin family before reading this book, I am certain I will never forget him or his remarkable family.
A must read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction based on actual fact set during the days preceding the Civil War. 


  1. I haven't been to your blog in awhile, and see that I have missed some interesting reviews. This book sounds great, I will check it out for sure since its older who knows I might find it at the library.

  2. Brenda, thank you so much! I don't believe Lowry ever knew in his lifetime how many people his faith and obedience would inspire. It's a good lesson for me!

    Ann, if you would like to read the first two chapters of Across the Wide River and the sequel, The Light Across the River, you can try them for free here: http://bit.ly/rdRKvp

    Brenda, I'm glad you could see the country in the story. My mom and all my grandparents were born in KY and my mom lived in WV for a while. :-)

    Thanks for sharing your blog readers with me!

  3. Ms. Reed, it was an honor to read and review your book, you really peaked my interest in the Rankin family and I intend to read more about them.


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