The Land

( 74 )

Overview

The son of a prosperous landowner and a former slave, Paul-Edward Logan is unlike any other boy he knows. His white father has acknowledged him and raised him openly-something unusual in post-Civil War Georgia. But as he grows into a man he learns that life for someone like him is not easy. Black people distrust him because he looks white. White people discriminate against him when they learn of his black heritage. Even within his own family he faces betrayal and degradation. So at the age of fourteen, he sets ...

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Overview

The son of a prosperous landowner and a former slave, Paul-Edward Logan is unlike any other boy he knows. His white father has acknowledged him and raised him openly-something unusual in post-Civil War Georgia. But as he grows into a man he learns that life for someone like him is not easy. Black people distrust him because he looks white. White people discriminate against him when they learn of his black heritage. Even within his own family he faces betrayal and degradation. So at the age of fourteen, he sets out toward the only dream he has ever had: to find land every bit as good as his father's, and make it his own. Once again inspired by her own history, Ms. Taylor brings truth and power to the newest addition to the award-winning Logan family stories.

After the Civil War Paul, the son of a white father and a black mother, finds himself caught between the two worlds of colored folks and white folks as he pursues his dream of owning land of his own.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In a tale written for young adults, Mildred D. Taylor combines her personal family history with that of a country divided by racism, prejudice, and slavery. The events in The Land unfold through the eyes of Paul Logan, the son of a onetime slave and the white man who owned her. Paul's father treats him fairly and with kindness most of the time, frequently allowing him the same privileges he gives his legitimate sons. But as Paul grows older, certain harsh realities make him realize that he will never be considered a true equal to his white brothers -- or any white man, for that matter -- even if his skin is so light that he might be able to "pass."

Because of his ancestry, Paul feels that he is caught between two worlds, destined to be shunned by black folk as well as whites. The only person he can relate to at all is Mitchell, a black boy who used to torment Paul but who has now become a trusted friend. When the two run away together to escape their past and find their fortune -- which for Paul means realizing his dream of one day owning his own piece of land -- they encounter a world filled with heartbreaking betrayal, backbreaking labor, and rampant prejudice. As they come to trust only each other, their friendship grows ever stronger, until it seems that nothing -- not even a shared affection for the same woman -- can break the bond between them. But for two black men struggling to make something of themselves in a white-run world, life holds some tragic surprises in store.

In an author's note, Taylor explains that the character of Paul is based on one of her own descendants. The hardships he encounters in his struggle to become a landowner offer up a bittersweet lesson on the rewards of hard work and the destructive power of racism, providing Taylor's readers with an unforgettable look at the best, and worst, of humanity. (Beth Amos)

Publishers Weekly
Taylor's gift for combining history and storytelling are as evident here as in her other stories about the Logan family. This prequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry focuses on Cassies's grandfather, Paul-Edward Logan, and explains how the seeds were planted for feuds between the Logans and other families, as well as certain loyalties. Here, the author deftly explores double standards in the South during the years following the Civil War. She lays the groundwork for these issues to be examined through two key relationships in the childhood of Paul-Edward, a boy of mixed race: the strong bond he shares with Robert, his white half-brother, and a tenuous friendship with Mitchell, whose parents were born into slavery and whose father works for Paul-Edward's father. Through them, the hero becomes painfully aware of the indelible line dividing black and white society. Though it is acceptable that his father, plantation-owner Edward, keeps an African-American mistress and helps rear her children, Paul-Edward and his sister, Cassie, are not allowed the same privileges as their half-brothers. An incident of family betrayal and a broken promise prompts Paul-Edward to run away from home and pursue his dream to farm his own piece of land. After arriving in Mississippi and setting his sights on the acreage he wants to buy, he soon discovers that becoming a landowner of color is more complicated and dangerous than expected. Like any good historian, Taylor extracts truth from past events without sugarcoating issues. Although her depiction of the 19th-century South is anything but pretty, her tone is more uplifting than bitter. Rather than dismissing hypocrisies, she digs beneath the surface ofPaul-Edward's friends and foes, showing how their values have been shaped by social norms. Here, villains are as much victims as heroes, but only those as courageous as the protagonist challenge the traditions that promote inequality. Even during the book's most wrenching scenes, the determination, wisdom and resiliency-which become the legacy of the Logan family-will be strongly felt. Taylor fans should hasten to read this latest contribution to the Logan family history, and newcomers will eagerly lap this up and plunge into the author's other titles. Ages 12-up. (Step.) Taylor's gift for combining history and storytelling are as evident here as in her other stories about the Logan family. This prequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry focuses on Cassies's grandfather, Paul-Edward Logan, and explains how the seeds were planted for feuds between the Logans and other families, as well as certain loyalties. Here, the author deftly explores double standards in the South during the years following the Civil War. She lays the groundwork for these issues to be examined through two key relationships in the childhood of Paul-Edward, a boy of mixed race: the strong bond he shares with Robert, his white half-brother, and a tenuous friendship with Mitchell, whose parents were born into slavery and whose father works for Paul-Edward's father. Through them, the hero becomes painfully aware of the indelible line dividing black and white society. Though it is acceptable that his father, plantation-owner Edward, keeps an African-American mistress and helps rear her children, Paul-Edward and his sister, Cassie, are not allowed the same privileges as their half-brothers. An incident of family betrayal and a broken promise prompts Paul-Edward to run away from home and pursue his dream to farm his own piece of land. After arriving in Mississippi and setting his sights on the acreage he wants to buy, he soon discovers that becoming a landowner of color is more complicated and dangerous than expected. Like any good historian, Taylor extracts truth from past events without sugarcoating issues. Although her depiction of the 19th-century South is anything but pretty, her tone is more uplifting than bitter. Rather than dismissing hypocrisies, she digs beneath the surface of Paul-Edward's friends and foes, showing how their values have been shaped by social norms. Here, villains are as much victims as heroes, but only those as courageous as the protagonist challenge the traditions that promote inequality. Even during the book's most wrenching scenes, the determination, wisdom and resiliency-which become the legacy of the Logan family-will be strongly felt. Taylor fans should hasten to read this latest contribution to the Logan family history, and newcomers will eagerly lap this up and plunge into the author's other titles. Ages 12-up. (Step.)
KLIATT
At the end of this novel, Taylor has a five-page Author's Note that explains her own family's history and how closely it parallels the events and characters in The Land. This is important, because the story of Paul-Edward Logan is one that many of today's YA readers might have trouble believing—race relations in the deep South just after the Civil War were just that: unbelievable. Paul's father is a white man, the former owner of Paul's mother, and Paul and his sister have been raised on their daddy's land as almost-equals to their all-white brothers. Paul can pass for white in his appearance, and this fact brings him only trouble from whites and blacks alike. When Paul is a teenager, many things change: his father whips him in public when Paul talks back to some white boys—explaining to him later that this humiliation will save him from being lynched. Paul and his friend from home, Mitchell, take to the road sometime after this incident, trying to find their own way in the world, away from Paul's white family. The long story details their adventures, their hard work, the outrageous bigotry from white people they face everywhere, their success and tragedy. Paul learns to be a skilled carpenter, yet yearns to purchase land of his own. His success training horses and his abilities making furniture win respect from some in the white community, but he has learned not to trust white people. These skills, however, combined with his willingness to take calculated risks, enable him to buy the land he dreams of owning. Another story that parallels this is Paul's long-suffering love for Caroline, who first chooses Mitchell, Paul's best friend, as her husband. Paul and Carolineare to be the grandparents of Cassie from Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The cover that pictures two young men, one who looks white (Paul) and his clearly black friend (Mitchell), is a good introduction to the story, their clothes signaling a 19th-century tale. Taylor's writing has the power of a riveting story told well; and her understated, often matter-of-fact accounts of the dreadful injustices that Paul and Mitchell endure contribute to the strong impact the story has on readers. (Prequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Penguin Putnam, 373p. 00-039329., $17.99. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
From The Critics
Mildred Taylor's The Land ranks with William Armstrong's Sounder (Harper & Row, 1969) as an exceptional and inspirational example of fine writing. It is the prequel to the Newbery award winning, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Dial, 1976). The insights into the life of Paul-Edward Logan are chronological and abundant. Paul-Edward Logan was Taylor's great-grandfather. These stories were told to her as far back as she can remember. Yet, this is not a biography. Rather it is a kaleidoscopic probe into the personal growth, tenacity, and fulfillment of a dream of a young Negro sired by a white man as he struggles through the post-Civil War era in the deep South. Through superb dialogue, Paul-Edward reconstructs in a careful self-study his awareness and acceptance of the pain and injustice rendered. The emotional resonance of the personal histories, along with the detailed information about these times, make the story a rich resource. Truly, the Logan family legacy is a powerful force that indeed worked to destroy the racial barriers as much as any organized civil rights movement. I did have a white daddy. He was a prosperous man, or at least he had been before the war. He owned a lot of land, and until a few years back he had owned his share of slaves, too. My mama had been one of those slaves. There are so many facets of Paul-Edward's story as he relates his feelings and dreams in this first-person narrative. He is hated by the other boys on his father's plantation. He was a colored boy whose mixed look caused most folks to think he was white. Cassie and Paul-Edward were Edward Logan's children with Deborah, his slave. Both of the children were born into slavery. There were many such children.Some white men took care of their colored children; most didn't. Cassie and Paul-Edward's daddy acknowledged that they were his, and he raised them pretty much the same as his three white sons. Because my daddy was who he was, I had some of the privileges of a white boy, privileges denied to Mitchell and other colored folks on the place. Cassie and I sat right alongside Hammond, George, and Robert at our daddy's table. We wore good clothes, and our daddy educated us. He'd taught us himself how to read and write and figure...and he made Hammond and George and Robert share their books and all their school learning. Paul-Edward loved and feared his father, but he loved the land unconditionally. His dream was to own land every bit as good as his daddy's one day. And that is one of many of the major themes in this powerful story. He begins to realize the impact of true friendship as he and his friend Mitchell set out on the journey of pursuing Paul-Edward's dream of having land to call his own. When Paul-Edward was fourteen, he and Mitchell ran away, fearing the whipping his father promised Paul-Edward for riding another man's horse. The boys escaped onto a train, where they were hidden by several white women who allowed their skirts to act as curtains while the boys hid under the seats of the train. Thus the focus on this young man's dream begins. The pride and strength of the struggle is filled with words that engage the eye, mind, and heart of the reader. Through the eloquence of the prose, through infamy and suffering, joy and love, Paul-Edward Logan displays the hope and perseverance required for dreams to be fulfilled. Taylor courageously states in "A Note to the Reader" she has attempted to be true to the stories and the history told her by her family. She had included characters, incidents, and the language of that time. "Although there are those who wish to ban my books because I have used language that is painful; I have chosen to use the language that was spoken during the period, for I refuse to white-wash history. The language was painful and life was painful for many African Americans, including my family. I remember the pain." Mildred Taylor should be admired for her determination, her bravery, and being true to her heritage. Her truth in speech will impact generations of readers regardless of race. 2001, Phyllis Fogelman, 392 pages, Clodfelter
VOYA
Paul Logan has a fine life for a boy of color in late 1860s Georgia. His white father, Edward Logan, was a munificent and powerful man who taught his biracial children, Paul and his sister Cassie, to read and write alongside his three white sons. Edward required that all his children care for each other, although Paul and Cassie live with their African-Indian mother in a cottage on the property. Paul's seemingly idyllic life changes dramatically when he disobeys his father by racing horses for someone else. He and his friend, Mitchell, run away to escape certain punishment for taking money that rightfully belonged to Paul for winning the race. Because of this rash act at the age of fourteen, Paul severs all ties with his family and the land he loves. While he and Mitchell move and work around the South, Paul never loses sight of his dream of owning his own land. He experiences firsthand the harsh treatment Mitchell and other blacks endure. Sometimes he is treated even more cruelly because of his light skin. After several years of back-breaking work, Paul buys the land in Vicksburg, Mississippi, that becomes the Logan legacy. Taylor fashions an engrossing and heartwarming story that is a more-than-fitting prequel to her Newbery Award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Dial, 1976). Taylor uses stories from her own family's past to create a fascinating and honest look at life's struggles and joys for many African American families after the Civil War. Although this book will be a welcome addition to many middle and junior high school libraries, the fascinating, free-flowing tale will be received warmly by readers of all ages. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any betterwritten; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Phyllis Fogelman Books/Penguin, 392p, $17.99. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Brenda Moses-Allen
Children's Literature
For young Paul Logan, life in the post-Civil War South is complicated. Born to a slave mother and her owner, Paul is seen by outsiders as a social blemish. While his father has accepted Paul, many other people hate him because of his mixed racial heritage. The elder Logan allows Paul to come to his home, to eat with his three white brothers and to receive an education. Unfortunately, society in the South during Reconstruction will not tolerate any further acceptance by a white father for his "colored" children. Paul is also a gifted horseman and woodworker but he struggles against the limited horizons open to him. A neighbor boy, Mitchell, emerges first as Paul's primary tormenter and then his long-term friend. Eventually, Paul can no longer tolerate his partial acceptance by his white father. Fleeing the family home in Georgia, Paul travels to Mississippi where he begins a series of backbreaking jobs in lumber camps. His heartfelt goal is to earn enough money to purchase land of his own and rear a family. He and Mitchell settle on a forty-acre farm that they strive to purchase. Ultimately, Paul must overcome betrayals, intolerance and prejudice to achieve his dream. Written by the author as a prequel to the Newbery Award winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, this moving story is based upon the experiences of the writer's great grandparents. Written with great care, accuracy and emotion, The Land is a wonderful novel, telling a family story that will move and enrich its readers. Readers will come away with a deeper understanding of what life in the South was like for African-Americans struggling to make their way in a society grounded upon prejudice. 2001, Phyllis Fogelman Books, $17.99.Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-The Land by Mildred Taylor (Putnam, 2001) is a wonderful novel of close friendship, harsh prejudices, and deep yearning. Fans of the author's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Dial, 1976) saga will enjoy learning how the love of the land was instilled into the family through the story of Paul-Edward Logan, Cassie's grandfather. His mother was a slave freed by the Civil War. Usually acknowledged by his white father, he has more education and training than most blacks of the time. However, frustrated by the inequalities caused by his mixed heritage, he leaves home to find work in order to earn land of his own. Experienced actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson is a wonderful reader for this story. Told in the first person, he becomes Paul-Edward and reads believably with a soft Southern accent. He moves easily from correct English to the uneducated speech full of grammar errors of other characters. When repeating dialogue, the narrator changes tone to differentiate the sexes. He uses pauses effectively, and knows exactly when to emphasize a word to enhance the realism. This historical novel brings this period of American history to life.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"Some white men took care of their colored children; most didn't. My daddy was one who did." This is the central conflict of Paul-Edward Logan's life: his daddy and white brothers love him, but he can never be their equal. His parentage sets him apart from the "colored" population as well, until he is virtually isolated in a society almost totally defined by color. This sprawling tale explores the history of the Logan family and the consequences of the miscegenation that caused diarist Mary Chesnut to call slavery the "monstrous institution." Pride causes Paul-Edward to leave his father's land in Georgia and make his way with his best friend to Mississippi. It is here, of course, that he finds and struggles to buy the land that will sustain the Logan family for generations to come. Readers have come to expect Taylor (The Well) to deliver a powerful story marked by defining moments that crystallize for the reader the unique cruelty of the post-Reconstruction South, and she continues to do so here. Paul-Edward encounters betrayal and brutality at every turn, from the brother who turns away as his white friends taunt Paul-Edward, to the lumber-camp boss who works him almost beyond endurance, to the landowner who reneges on a land deal. His narration has a tendency, however, to overexplain these events rather than letting them speak directly to the reader. This somewhat dilutes the power of the story; the narrator's mature distance from the events also saps the story of some of the immediacy found in other installments in the Logan saga. Still, readers who know the Logans will enjoy meeting the youthful avatars of familiar characters, especially the resolute Caroline-Cassie's Big Ma. Moreover, this is an aspect of the legacy of slavery not often confronted in children's books; Paul-Edward makes the reader feel its grotesque injustices. They will root for him, as they have for his children and grandchildren, to overcome.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142501467
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 12/1/2003
  • Series: Logan Family Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 74,665
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 4.56 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Mildred D. Taylor is the author of nine novels including The Road to Memphis, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, The Land, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Her books have won numerous awards, among them a Newbery Medal (for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry), four Coretta Scott King Awards, and a Boston Globe—Horn Book Award. Her book The Land was awarded the L.A. Times Book Prize and the PEN Award for Children’s Literature. In 2003, Ms. Taylor was named the First Laureate of the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature.
                Mildred Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and grew up in Toledo, Ohio. After graduating from the University of Toledo, she served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia for two years and then spent the next year traveling throughout the United States, working and recruiting for the Peace Corps. At the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism, she helped created a Black Studies program and taught in the program for two years. Ms. Taylor has worked as a proofreader-editor and as program coordinator for an international house and a community free school. She now devotes her time to her family, writing, and what she terms “the family ranch” in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. 

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Read an Excerpt

The Land


By Mildred D. Taylor

Phyllis Fogelman Books

Copyright © 2OOl Mildred D. Taylor.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0803719507



Chapter One



I loved my daddy. I loved my brothers too. But in the end it was Mitchell Thomas and I who were most like brothers, with a bond that couldn't be broken. The two of us came into Mississippi together by way of East Texas, and that was when we were still boys, long after we had come to our understanding of each other. Seeing that we were a long way from our Georgia home and both of us being strangers here in Mississippi, the two of us depended on each other and became as family. But it wasn't always that way.

    In the beginning the two of us didn't get along at all. Fact to business, there was a time it seemed like to me Mitchell Thomas lived just to taunt me. There were other boys too who picked on me, but Mitchell was the worst. I recall one time in particular when I was about nine or so and I was reading beside a creek on my daddy's land, and Mitchell came up from behind me and just whopped me on the head. For no reason. Just whopped me on the head! Course I jumped up mad. "What ya do that for?" I cried.

    "Felt like it," he said. That's all; he felt like it. "Ya wanna do somethin' 'bout it?"

    But I said nothing. Sure, I wanted to do something about it, all right, but I was no fool. Besides the fact I was a small-built boy, Mitchell was a year and some months older than me, a big boy too, stronger than most boys his age, and he could've broken me in two if he'd had the mind. Mitchell stared at me and I stared at him, then he turned and walked away. He didn't laugh, he didn't gloat; he just walked away, but I knew he'd be back.

    And he was. Time and time again.

    At first I just tried to stay out of Mitchell's way, but that didn't solve the problem. So I went to my sister, Cassie, about Mitchell. Now, my sister was a beautiful girl and I knew even Mitchell had eyes for her. But Cassie was not only beautiful, she was tough, smart, and just a bit cocky. She was six years older than I was and pretty much like a mother hen when it came to me; I knew she'd take my part. "Cassie, you know 'bout Mitchell?" I asked her.

    "Course I know about Mitchell," she answered. "Why're you letting him beat up on you?"

    "I'm not letting him!" I exclaimed in outrage. "You thinking I'm liking him beating up on me?"

    "Well, if you're not, you'd better make him stop."

    "Well, I'm trying."

    "Well, you'd better try harder."

    "I've tried fighting back, but he's too strong. Thing is, I don't know how to stop him."

    "You'd better figure a way," she said matter-of-factly, then looked me in the eyes. "You want me to talk to him?"

    I didn't even need to think on that. "Naw, course not! You did, then they'd all be saying I had my sister fighting my battles!"

    Cassie shrugged. "Then you'd better figure something out quick."

    Well, I didn't figure anything out quick enough before Mitchell whalloped me again. And again. Finally things got so bad, I told my daddy about Mitchell and about how he and other boys too were always picking on me. Now, the thing was, Mitchell and his family and the other boys lived on my daddy's land, and I figured my daddy with one word could put a stop to Mitchell and the rest. But my daddy said, "What you expect me to do about it?"

    "I don't know," I replied, even though I knew exactly what I wanted him to do about it.

    "You expect me to stop this boy Mitchell and the others from messing with you?"

    I didn't say anything.

    "You want it stopped, Paul," he said, "then you stop it. This here is between you and Mitchell and whatever other boys. I'm not getting into it."

    My daddy was true to his word too. More than one time he saw me with a busted lip or a bruised eye, but he showed me no sympathy. He just looked at me and said, "See you didn't stop it yet." After a while, though, he said, "Paul, you don't stop this soon, those boys are going to kill you."

    "Well, they're bigger and stronger'n me!" I protested.

    "Then you use what you strongest at, boy! You use your head. Now take care of it."

    I took care of it, all right. I enlisted the aid of my brothers, Hammond, George, and Robert. I figured Hammond and George could sure enough stop Mitchell. Course, they already knew of my troubles. They'd seen my busted lip and bruises too, but they had been away at school during most of the time Mitchell had been beating on me, and I hadn't been able to turn to them for my rescue. Robert, of course, had wanted to help me out, but there hadn't been much he could do. He was as small as I was. Now Hammond and George were back home and I figured to settle this thing.

    "So what do you want us to do?" Hammond asked.

    I was looking for complete and absolute revenge, and I figured Hammond at eighteen and George at sixteen could provide that for me. "Put the fear of God into 'em!" I declared.

    Hammond smiled; so did George. Robert, though, nodded solemnly. "We can do that." Robert was nine, same age as me. Of my brothers, I was closest with Robert. I suppose, in part, being the same year's children made us close, but there were other things too. We had been together practically since birth, and we always took care of each other. When I got into trouble, Robert was there to pull me out of it if he could, or at least to see me through it, and I did the same for him. More than one time when one of us would be getting a licking from either my mama or our daddy, the other would jump in to try to stop it and we'd both get whipped. We shared everything together. Back then, Robert was always on my side. "They got no business beating on you," Robert said, expressing my sentiments exactly.

    "That's what I figure too," I said.

    "We'll take care of 'em tomorrow," Robert promised.

    "Now wait a minute," said Hammond. "I don't know if that's such a good idea."

    "What's not good about it?" I asked. "Mitchell and those other boys been beating on me for the longest time, so y'all go beat on them awhile and they'll stop."

    Hammond was quiet a moment, then said, "Well, I don't know if that's quite fair."

    "Sounds fair to me."

    "Me too," said Robert.

    "But George and I are older than Mitchell and those other boys, and we'd have the advantage," said Hammond.

    "Well, that's the point of the thing!" I said.

    Hammond shook his head. "'Sides that, they live here on our place, and if we get into it with them, it'll look like we're bullying them—"

    "Well, they've been bullying me!"

    George looked at me dead center. "You tell our daddy about this?" One thing I liked about my brother George was that he laid things right on the line; he said exactly what was on his mind. On the surface he was an easygoing sort of boy with a body that seemed to hang in a lazy fashion, such as always having one leg dangling over the arm of a chair when our daddy wasn't around. But the truth was, he had himself a fierce kind of temper when baited and a steely right hand to match. He had never used either against me. I always told him the truth. "I told him, all right," I replied in answer to his question.

    "Well, what'd he say?"

    I didn't speak right up.

    "Well? I know he said something."

    "He told me he wasn't getting into it. He told me to stop it, so that's what I'm trying to do."

    George laughed. "Yeah, you trying to stop it, all right. You trying to get us to stop it for you."

    "Same thing," said Robert. Those were my thoughts exactly.

    "Look, Paul," said Hammond. I'll have a talk with Mitchell, but I'm not going to go beating up on him for you. Understood?"

    I looked at Hammond and nodded solemnly, but I was figuring the only thing Mitchell Thomas would ever understand was a good whipping.

    That very next morning Robert and I, sitting behind Hammond and George on their bays, went over to the patch of ground Mitchell's family tended. Now, the Thomases, like all the other families who lived on my daddy's land, were sharecroppers, and because of that fact, they were obliged to take heed of whatever my daddy or my brothers said. Miz Thomas was sure enough taking heed right now.

    "Edna," said Hammond as Mitchell's mother stood in her dark doorway, "where's Willie?" Willie Thomas was Mitchell's daddy. "He gone off already?'

    "Yes, suh," answered Miz Thomas. "He in the fields."

    "Well, doesn't matter. We come to see Mitchell. He with his daddy?"

    "Mitchell?" questioned Miz Thomas. "Well, suh, he's out in them woods yonder choppin' wood for the fire."

    Hammond nodded. "Whereabout?"

    "North yonder... by the creek."

    "All right," said Hammond. "We'll find him."

    We turned to go, but then Miz Thomas said, "That Mitchell, he done somethin'? He in trouble?"

    "We just want to talk to him, Edna," Hammond assured her. Still, though, as we rode away, I saw Miz Thomas frown, and young as I was, I knew she was worried. She was worried because my brothers had come. My brothers had come asking about Mitchell, and my brothers were white.



The Georgia sun was blazing by the time my brothers and I located Mitchell chopping wood on the north bank of the creek. Two of his younger brothers were with him, stacking the logs he split. As we dismounted, Mitchell struck his axe into a fallen log, then yanked it out again and held it across his chest. To tell the truth, I'd have preferred it if we had found him tending some other chore. I for one knew that Mitchell had a hot temper, and there was no telling what he might take a notion to do with that axe. Hammond, though, seemed to take no notice of the axe as he and George walked over to Mitchell. Robert and I staved by the horses.

    "See you got quite a woodpile there, Mitchell," said Hammond cordially.

    Mitchell glanced over at me, then back at Hammond before he nodded. "Yeah," he said. His brothers were silent and still.

    "Well, now, Mitchell," Hammond went on, "we rode over because we wanted to have a little talk with you."

    "That's right," said George. "We understand that you been beating up on Paul there." I appreciated the fact that George was getting right to the heart of this matter. "Quite often, as a matter of fact."

    Mitchell's grip tightened on the axe, but he said nothing.

    "We'd like to know why," said Hammond.

    I kept my eyes on the axe. I felt like I needed to warn Hammond and George. They didn't know how crazy Mitchell could be.

    "We'd like to know why you have it in for Paul," Hammond went on. "Did he do something to you?'

    Mitchell eyed his axe and didn't speak.

    Hammond and George waited; then George grew impatient. "Well? Don't you have anything to say? Did Paul do something to you or not?" Mitchell kept on looking at that axe. "Speak up!"

    Mitchell then shook his head. "Naw," he mumbled, but I could see his fingers tightening on the handle.

    "Well, if Paul hasn't done anything to you," said Hammond, "then I see no reason for you to be continuously picking on him. You're older than him, bigger than him, and it's certainly not a fair kind of thing."

    "We want it stopped," said George, as if that should put an end to the matter right there, and I thought, Good. Now we're getting to the point of this thing.

    Hammond continued to be diplomatic. "We want you two to try to be friends, Mitchell. We're all living here on the same land, and we all have to work together, so I don't want to hear of any more fights between the two of you. Understood?"

    Mitchell once again had nothing to say. George lost patience and grasped the handle of Mitchell's axe. "Boy, you better answer!" he demanded, but Mitchell in a dangerous move yanked on the axe. George too yanked on the axe in an attempt to twist it from Mitchell's grasp, but then Hammond intervened, stepping between George and Mitchell. George's hand slipped from the axe, but he still tried to get at Mitchell.

    Hammond pushed him back. "Stop it, George!" he ordered. Then he turned to Mitchell. "Now, you, boy, you put that axe down." There was a moment when I didn't know if Mitchell would obey. Hammond didn't waver. "I said put it down! Now!" Mitchell looked at George, at Hammond, then slammed the axe into a log. Hammond stepped back calmly. "There's to be no more of that."

    George shoved past Hammond and pointed his finger right in Mitchell's face. "You try that on me again and I'll have your head, boy! You hear me? You best be remembering I'm not Paul!"

    I was afraid Mitchell was going to slap George's hand away and the two of them would get into it right there, but Mitchell only glared at George and kept his silence. Hammond eyed the both of them and said to Mitchell, "There's to be no more fighting with Paul."

    Mitchell looked at the ground.

    "Is that understood?"

    Mitchell looked up, first at Hammond, then at me, and I felt my knees go weak. "Yeah," he mumbled, his eyes fixed on me, and at that moment I knew that my troubles with Mitchell were far from over.

    And I was right.

    The next time Mitchell Thomas caught up with me alone, he near to whipped the living daylights out of me. "Now, go tell your brothers 'bout this beatin', you white nigger!" he cried as he pummeled me. "For all I care, you can tell yo' white daddy 'bout it too!"

    But after Mitchell got finished beating on me, I told no one. Instead, I made my way over to the creek and sat on its bank, looked out over my daddy's land, and pondered why Mitchell and the other boys hated me so. Now, what Mitchell said was true: I did have a white daddy. My daddy was Edward Logan, and Edward Logan was a much-respected man. He was a prosperous man too, or at least he had been before the war had come in I86I, and still now that the war was over by several years, he was doing better than most. He owned a lot of land, and until a few years back he had owned his share of slaves too. My mama had been one of those slaves.

    My mama was called by the name of Deborah, and she was equally of the African people and of the native people, the Indians, whom we called the Nation. She was a beautiful woman. My daddy took a liking to her soon after she came into her womanhood, and he took her for his colored woman, and that's how my older sister Cassie and I came to be. Cassie and I were our daddy's children, and both of us were born into slavery. Now, there were a lot of white men who fathered colored children in those days, even though the law said no white man could legally father a black child; that was in part so no child of color could inherit from his white daddy. Some white men took care of their colored children; most didn't. My daddy was one who did. Not only did he take care of Cassie and me, but he acknowledged that we were his, though it was quietly spoken, and he raised us as his, pretty much the same as his white children, and that's what made us different, what made me different.

    I was a colored boy who looked almost white. Though I had a mixed look to me, upon first seeing me, most folks thought I was white, and for some folks, if they didn't know different, they kept thinking so. My hair was brown and straight and hung somewhat long most times, to my shoulders. Some called that the Indian look in me, and my mama liked that. My skin was what some folks call olive for some reason, and my features being what they were, people made their own judgments about who and what I was.

    Because my daddy was who he was, I had some of the privileges of a white boy, privileges denied to Mitchell and other colored folks on the place. Cassie and I sat right alongside Hammond, George, and Robert at our daddy's table. We wore good clothes, and our daddy educated us. He'd taught us himself how to read and write and figure, even though when he taught Cassie, it was against the law at the time, and when he taught me, it was against what so many of his white neighbors held dear. He also made Hammond and George and Robert share their books and all their school learning with us. When he traveled on business around the community, he oftentimes took me with him, along with my brothers. Just by being with Edward Logan and a part of his world, I was receiving an education none of the other boys of color on the place were privy to. My daddy protected me, and I was treated almost as if I were white. Yes, I was different, all right, and that was a fact. I sat there by the creek thinking on that, and finally decided it was no wonder Mitchell Thomas couldn't stand the sight of me. I supposed if I'd been Mitchell, I wouldn't've liked me much either.

    I remember Robert came along as I was sitting there dwelling on all this and wanted to know what had happened. "What you think?" I said.

    "Mitchell?"

    "Mitchell."

    Robert heaved a sigh and sat down beside me. "Looks bad."

    "Feels worse."

    "Why'd he do it this time?"

    I looked at Robert. Though I'd figured it out, I wasn't ready to talk about it. "Same as always," I said. "He just doesn't like me."

    Robert nodded, and we said no more for a good long while. Robert threw rocks into the creek, letting me be, and if he figured I was holding something back, he didn't say so. Robert and I didn't need to talk; we were that close.

    Some time passed; then Robert spoke again. "You want to fish awhile ?"

    I glanced over at the rock opening where we kept our poles and shook my head. "Don't feel like it."

    "Wanna do anything?"

    "Not really."

    "You hurting?"

    "What you think?"

    "Want me to get Hammond and George?"

    I shook my head.

    "What you going to do?"

    "Sit right here."

    "Okay," said Robert. "I'll sit with you." He continued to throw his rocks. I continued to stare out at the creek, and we said no more.

(Continues...)


Excerpted from The Land by Mildred D. Taylor. Copyright © 2OOl by Mildred D. Taylor. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 74 )
Rating Distribution

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(64)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 75 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2007

    the best book in the logan family series

    For those that read Roll of thunder hear my cry, you need to read this book if you haven't already. And if you plan on reading roll of thunder...then read this first. It's about a man's struggle and determination to own a piece of land (I forgot how large it is) for his family and generations to come. It's also about love, family, frienships, and most importantly growing up and trust. This book is on definetely on my top 10 list!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    Dear idiots

    If it takes u a whole month to read this book u need to be in special ed.(especially if ur in 8th grade).i couldve read this book in 4 days if i was in 4th grade.ur reading level is probably y u didnt like this book because ur slow brain couldnt comphrend this book so therefore u didnt understand it so if u dont understand it u dont like it.stop playing video games u ignorant whore and actually take time to understand the book and tell ur dumbass friend i hope his mother gets shot an gets hit by a tree and tell him ill be laughing my ass off about it(:

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2012

    OMG

    I read Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. And I cry now I am reading the Land And I am going to cry.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Great!!!!

    This book was amazing!I COULDNT KEEP MY EYES OFF IT!learned a lot about the time period

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 22, 2011

    great book

    i started reading this book and became hooked instantly

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book was very emotional and it had my eyes glued to the pages from page 1. And i cried at diffrent parts of the book. I have never cried just because of a book. That shows how good this book is.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2005

    Very bad

    I had to read this book for school and it was probably the worst book I ever read. If I could give this book 0 stars I would but I have to give at least 1.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Mildred D. Talyor

    This book is one of the greatest books of all times. And when your reading it and you can actually visualize what's happening in real life in your head it's even better. Mildred D. Talyor is truly a great author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2013

    Good Read

    I read this book several years ago and still remember how wonderful this story is. It is inspiring and the writing makes you really root for the main character!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2013

    Amazing book

    BEST BOOK EVER - The end just made me wanna cry READ THIS BOOK

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Good

    :-)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2012

    The Land

    Awesome

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Anonymous

    I loved this book!!! I read roll of thunder hear my cry,let the circle be unbroken,and now this they are all great i would reccomend this to everyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    I read this book many years ago when I was in middle school. The

    I read this book many years ago when I was in middle school. The Land was one of my favorites. I fell in love with this book and absolutely recommend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    Roll

    I havent read this on yet, but i have to read roll of thunder, hear my cry, and it is getting really good. I would like to read this one, but i think i want to read rolls's sequal first,

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    Highly Recommended!! Great Book!

    This book is the prequel to the Roll of Thunder series. I recommend it to anyone likes Roll of Thunder.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Answer

    The sequel to roll of thunder hear my cry is let the circle be unbrokenm

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Anyone who doesnt like this book im sorry but your an ediat and the idiat who laughed when mitchel died you fail in life and will never be succesfull sry but i had to say this is the best book i ever read

    Yea

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    Question

    What is the sequel to roll if thunder hear my cry??

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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