Never Too Late

Written by Michael Phillips
Review by Nancy J. Attwell

Josepha Black is a young slave, living in Louisiana, who decides to protect herself from the pain of loss by hardening her heart to love. Her determination never to marry leads to such a desire for freedom that she seizes a chance opportunity to “ride the railroad” to the North. But, instead of traveling to freedom, she ends up enslaved by a new master in North Carolina. Years pass, and when the end of the war brings emancipation, Josepha is forced to learn that true freedom only comes when one is willing to unbind the chains around one’s heart.

Unfortunately, the storytelling falters when Josepha makes the near-miraculous discovery that an ex-slave, Mayme, is comfortably established with a white father and his extended family. Readers who have read the rest of the Carolina Cousins series may excuse the lack of explanation for Mayme’s astonishing transformation, but their pardon may be weakened by the heavy doses of italicization and the unwarranted repetition of entire paragraphs of text. Nevertheless, Josepha is an intriguing heroine and, despite the flaws, readers who have enjoyed the series should also appreciate her story.