Born and sold in 1847, David is the biracial child of a slave and her master. When David’s mother is freed, she begs her savior to buy her child back, and he does; so begins their journey to freedom in Canada following the Reverend William King, a white Presbyterian minister who begins a settlement of former slaves. David is raised to revere Rev. King and his strict rules of education and Christian community. He is an exceptionally bright boy, and the Rev. King personally sees to David’s education, determined that he should become a minister himself. Though David enjoys learning, and continues his studies, something inside him tells him that he is nothing more than a slave to the Rev. King’s personal ideals and so rebels. Soon after his mother’s agonizing death, David’s whiskey drinking and whoring get him banished from the community. David reasons, philosophizes, and justifies his opposition to his teacher and champion with hard work, both legal and illegal. As David grows older and more settled, the death of Rev. King forces David to seek the introspective closure he subconsciously craved.
This is an exceptionally well-written novel. Though there is nothing simple about David’s thoughts or story, the reader is drawn into David’s contemplation with the author’s forthright prose and the reader’s own curiosity about how David the child became the intelligent, jaded man so eloquently telling his own story. The characters are all engaging and interesting. This reader wouldn’t mind having whiskey with David herself. Highly, highly recommended!