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From Barnes & NobleThe 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)