“Find strength from within.” This is what Amari must chant within herself as her life becomes a nightmare. It is 1738. Amari is a young girl from a remote village in Africa. When a group of men with “skin the color of goat’s milk” enter the village, they are welcomed with open arms. However, these men have come for one thing…the strongest of the tribe and to kill the rest. As Amari is led to the coast, she is beaten, branded, and her pride is gone. Forced to board a slave ship headed for America, the horrors she encounters are burned into her soul forever. Once in America, she is sold to a plantation owner in the Carolinas where she thinks that she will be safer until she finds out she was bought as a present for the owner’s son. Here she meets Polly, a white indentured servant, who finds herself in as much danger as Amari. As a friendship blossoms between them, they find themselves on the run, trying to get something they will die for… freedom.
Copper Sun takes the reader from an African village to a slave ship to America and finally to freedom. Sharon Draper has taken an incomprehensible time in American history, and created a story where students actually feel like they are Amari. The reader can feel every touch, emotion, and heartache that Amari goes through. By trading point of view between Amari and Polly, the reader gets a feel for how it was to be an indentured servant with conflicting feelings about slavery and to be an actual slave. Sharon Draper starts the book of with an author’s note that states, “I am the granddaughter of a slave.” From that moment on, the reader is hooked. A 2006 starred review from Booklist states that, “Draper builds the explosive tension to the last chapter, and the sheer power of the story, balanced between the overwhelmingly brutal facts of slavery and Amari's ferocious survivor's spirit, will leave readers breathless, even as they consider the story's larger questions about the infinite costs of slavery and how to reconcile history.” Through vivid scenes and gritty language, Copper Sun is surely a book that no reader will ever forget.
In a School Library Journal review, it says “As readers embrace Amari and Polly, they will better understand the impact of human exploitation and suffering throughout history. In addition, they will gain a deeper knowledge of slavery, indentured servitude, and 18th-century sanctuaries for runaway slaves.” With this much knowledge found in one place, students could read this as a part of their 8th grade history curriculum. Much of the information found in this book could be used to compare knowledge the students already have. Great discussions could also come out of this book. Classroom debates about right and wrong, and forgiveness would help students fully grasp the literature.
(Book cover was found on Titlewave.com.)
"Copper Sun." Booklist 102.11 (2006). Title Wave. Follett Library Resources, Inc., 2006. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.
Larson, Gerry. "Copper Sun." School Library Journal (2006). Title Wave. Folett Library Resources, Jan. 2006. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.