The Gospel Truth by Caroline Pignat is not about religion, so don’t let that influence your decision about reading it. If you like historical fiction, human rights stories or character based fiction this will catch your attention.
I have a weakness for novels in verse. There’s something about the way it flows that draws me in. I read this in less than two hours, but an easy read doesn’t mean a frivolous one. Heavy subject matter is explored in the text.
Pignat followed the popular trend this year of using multiple narrators so we have a varied perspective of the plantation. Sometimes when books do this it is confusing or unpleasant but Pignat has created such distinct voices that it works beautifully in this case. The book also has an imprint on the top indicating which character is speaking in any given chapter so if you don’t read it in one sitting like I did, you can come back to it and know who’s head you’re in.
Stories of slavery are always sad, but Pignat infuses her novel with hope and bravery. Yes reading about a time when humans treated one another so poorly can make us cringe at the faults of humanity, but the spirited Phoebe and Shad remind us there is good too. Doctor Bergman, the Canadian character, takes risks to help others.
This is a book that could be read in schools to celebrate Black History Month or to discuss human rights. If you are looking for an engaging way to introduce teens to the underground railroad, this is a book that will capture the attention of both literary enthusiasts and reluctant readers.