The Light Across the River

Written by Stephanie Reed
Review by Nan Curnutt

This is a coming-of-age inspirational story about Johnny Rankin, an 11-year-old boy who was involved in the Underground Railroad, and Eliza, a runaway slave who was helped by Johnny’s family. The Rankin family lived on the banks of the Ohio River in 1837. Johnny, seventh of thirteen children, felt he was old enough to help with the runaway slaves, but his father was reluctant to include him since Johnny had trouble keeping secrets.

Eliza was a slave from Kentucky. She was the first person Johnny was allowed to help. Little did he know as he left her at her next stop that their paths were destined to cross again.

This book is a sequel to Stephanie Reed’s Across the Wide River. Both are based on the lives of the Rankin family from Ripley, Ohio. Ms. Reed has researched the Rankin family and used their notes as well as other historical information to help tell an accurate and thrilling story of how these deeply religious and courageous people risked their lives to gain freedom for others. This is an excellent true-life adventure tale for teens and adults.