In the Upper Country review

In his strong debut novel, In the Upper Country, Kai Thomas delivers stories within a story about slavery, the underground railroad, emancipation and the relationship between Blacks and   Indigenous people. The novel beings in a fictional northern Ontario town, Dunmore, in the 1800’s, that had been settled by black slaves. One night a former slave who had just arrived via the underground railroad shoots and kills a slave hunter and refuses to talk to anymore except the young local journalist. Upon meeting, the old lady strikes a deal with Sinda, the journalist; a story for a story.

The stories within the story are what drives this novel. They weave together the history of black slaves and the Indigenous people in North America. At the core of the novel we have characters who are all driven by love and family. Though there are a lot of characters throughout the novel, it is easy to keep track. Thomas does a brilliant job at weaving this perfect spider web to connect all the characters and stories together. He gives us two strong female protagonists who have lived extremely different lives, one in slavery, one in freedom and yet both have a remarkable fire lit within them

I’m grateful for this work of historical fiction for its stunning new perspective of Canada’s history in the underground railroad.

In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas (Penguin Random House) is available now.

Meredith is a Disney obsessed stay-at-home mom. When she’s not planning a trip, you’ll find her with her nose in a book. Follow her on Instagram.

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