Saturday, March 15, 2014

Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin


By Tonya Cherie Hegamin

Blurb: In 1848, an educated slave girl faces an inconceivable choice — between bondage and freedom, family and love.

On one side of the Mason-Dixon Line lives fifteen-year-old Willow, her master’s favorite servant. She’s been taught to read and has learned to write. She believes her master is good to her and fears the rebel slave runaways. On the other side of the line is seventeen-year-old Cato, a black man, free born. It’s his personal mission to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can. Willow’s and Cato’s lives are about to intersect, with life-changing consequences for both of them. Tonya Cherie Hegamin’s moving coming-of-age story is a poignant meditation on the many ways a person can be enslaved, and the force of will needed to be truly emancipated.

Genres: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance

Published: February 11, 2014

Series: N/A

Pages: 384

My Rating: 3 stars

Willow was a conflicting book for me, because I think that this is an important subject, but the way it was written wasn't so great, and I didn't think the romance was necessary at all. It ended up being somewhat mediocre of a read for me, which was disappointing since I'd been looking forward to this book.

Something that really bugged me was the way Willow wrote as opposed to how she spoke. In her diary, there would be grammatical errors like putting 'glare' instead of 'glared', but she does not talk this way. When she speaks in the book, there is not one grammatical error to be seen. This inconsistency confused me. What confused me even more is that sometimes her writing would be one hundred percent grammatically sound, and the next entry would not be. 

Secondly, there were characters I didn't like, first being the Rev. Sometimes he would be nice and rather fatherly to Willow, other times he was racist and awful. I didn't know what to think of him at all. I also did not like Cato all that much; I suppose I would have if there had not been the awkward romance between him and Willow. Quite frankly, I don't know why it was necessary, except for the fact that the book is Young Adult and it seems like romance in YA is just expected. Also, it happened so quickly, I couldn't even tell when they fell in love. On one page, Willow slaps Cato and is furious at him, and it basically seemed like the next time they met they were kissing and in love. I've read my fair share of unrealistically quick romances, but it seems like a worse offense to me when it makes its way into historical fiction for some reason.

At the beginning, there were times when I felt I was reading out of a textbook talking about women's rights. However, this issue didn't come up for the rest of the book. 

I appreciated the fact that the author wrote about slavery, since it seems to be a topic that doesn't get mentioned a lot in the YA genre. The other books on slavery I have read were middle grade. Still, I am not sure I would recommend it or not. I suppose it really depends on the person.


  1. Huh. True. All the books I've read in this time period were for adults. When did a dearth in any theme happen in YA and how come I didn't notice it? But I don't know about middle grade either. I'll take a raincheck on this book.

    1. I am not sure when it happened either, but I wish it hadn't. There seems to be an overabundance of YA books for one genre, and then a lack of them in others. Thanks for commenting!


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