Sarny: A Life Remembered

Sarny: A Life Remembered

4.9 10
by Gary Paulsen, Jerry Pinkney
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

So many readers have written and asked: What happened to Sarny, the young slave girl who learned to read in Nightjohn? Extraordinary things happened to her, from the moment she fled the plantation in the last days of the Civil War, suddenly a free woman in search of her sold-away children, until she found them and began a new life. Sarny's story gives a…  See more details below

Overview

So many readers have written and asked: What happened to Sarny, the young slave girl who learned to read in Nightjohn? Extraordinary things happened to her, from the moment she fled the plantation in the last days of the Civil War, suddenly a free woman in search of her sold-away children, until she found them and began a new life. Sarny's story gives a panoramic view of America in a time of trial, tragedy, and hoped-for change, until her last days in the 1930s.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A satisfying sequel...It is a great read, with characters both to hate and to cherish, and a rich sense of what it really was like then." --Booklist, Starred

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A 94-year-old former slave recalls the years after the Civil War. PW called this sequel to Nightjohn "somewhat contrived" but a "page-turner." Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The ALAN Review - Connie S. Zitlow
In this sequel to Nightjohn, Paulsen continues the story of Sarny, the slave girl Nightjohn taught to read. It's 1930 when Sarny, age 94 and "getting on," finishes telling her story by "writing it all down," as urged by her grandson. She remembers how the slaves learned to read, even though the men with whips and dogs tried to stop them. In the beautiful rhythm of Paulsen's poetic prose, Sarny tells about the master's cruelty, the death of her first husband, and the selling of her two children. Suddenly a free woman in 1861, Sarny flees the plantation in a desperate search for little Tyler and Delie. On the way to New Orleans, she meets the mysterious and remarkable Miss Laura, who helps her find her children and a home. When Sarny, supported by her new husband and Miss Laura, establishes a school because "near everybody wanted to learn to read," the night riders come and Sarny once again lives with sadness. Recommended for middle and high school readers, this book is as much about Sarny's intellect and courage as it is about slavery and the aftermath of the Civil War.
VOYA - Kellie Shoemaker
In this sequel to Nightjohn (Delacorte, 1993), Sarny, the twelve-year-old slave who is taught to read by another slave (Nightjohn), is grown up with two small children, and still living as a slave on Waller's plantation. Even though she risks severe punishment, she teaches the other slaves to read and write. Tragedy strikes suddenly when Waller sells Sarny's children to pay his gambling debts, leaving her despondent and heartbroken. After the invading Yankees kill Waller and set the slaves free, Sarny is determined to find her children, so she and her friend Lucy start an exhausting and eventful journey to New Orleans. They soon meet up with Miss Laura, a beautiful and successful businesswoman, who takes them to New Orleans and becomes their benefactor. With Miss Laura's help, Sarny is able to build a school and continue Nightjohn's legacy. Sarny is a remarkable woman, and Paulsen once again breathes life into a full and complex character that is guaranteed to remain in readers' hearts long after they finish her story. Stubborn, tenacious, hard working, and honest, Sarny knows what she wants, thinks what she will, and does not mince words to say it. Except for some summarizing in the first chapter that does not allow the story to really begin until the second, the pace is quick and even and hardly ever stops long enough for the reader to put the book down. Lucky for us, this is a sequel that lives up to our expectations. VOYA Codes: 4Q 5P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8).
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Sarny is Gary Paulsen's companion toNightJohn, an earlier novel for young adults. Sarny, a young slave girl in the first novel, grows to adulthood in slavery and surrounded by tragedies, most especially the death of her husband and the sale of her children. Parents and teachers ought to be warned that this book demands an older reader. As fitting Sarny's age and the times in which she lived, sexuality and violence are integrated elements of her story. Some sections are particularly painful, notably when her second husband defends her right to educate black children and Sarny stands helpless watching him dragged away to his death by the KKK.
School Library Journal
Grades 6-9
Sarny, a child in Paulsen's Nightjohn (Doubleday, 1993), narrates the story of her life from girlhood until 1930, when she is 94 years old. Born into slavery and taught to read by the slave Nightjohn, she marries, bears two babies, and sees her husband worked to death. Her children are sold just as the Civil War ends. Accompanied by another freed slave, Sarny journeys toward New Orleans looking for her children, and meets Miss Laura, a light-skinned black woman with a shadowy occupation and lots of money. In New Orleans, Sarny finds her children and lives comfortably in Miss Laura's employ. She remarries, teaches black children to read, and sees her husband lynched. As the story ends, Sarny, a very rich woman, is living in Texas and waiting to die. Sarny's strong narrative voice is striking, as she remembers events in her own distinct way. It is as though readers are sitting at the feet of a real person, listening as her story spins out. Those unfamiliar with Nightjohn will not understand the numerous references to it, but this detracts little from the story. While Sarny suffers many terrible tragedies, her life after the war is probably far more comfortable and sheltered than the lives of the vast majority of former slaves. However, this is not meant to be a sweeping overview of history, but the highly individualized account of one woman's experiences. Just how much of the book is based on historical facts remains fuzzy, but Sarny is a wonderful, believable character. Her story makes absorbing reading. --Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780440219736
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
08/28/1999
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
235,285
Product dimensions:
4.26(w) x 6.88(h) x 0.51(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A satisfying sequel...It is a great read, with characters both to hate and to cherish, and a rich sense of what it really was like then." —Booklist, Starred

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >