Title: The Mapmaker's Children
Author: Sarah McCoy
Published: May 2015, Crown
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours
When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.
Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.
My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Sarah McCoy and I absolutely loved it!!! I had heard good things about her other book, The Baker's Daughter, and have it on my ever-growing TBR list, so I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to be part of the tour for Sarah's latest book.
I found myself immediately hooked right from the very beginning of this book. Using a dual narrative to tell the story, we get Sarah's from the 1860s and Eden's in the present. Usually when reading these types of books, I find myself more drawn to one character than the other, but in this case, I was deeply invested in both characters.
I love reading about those unsung heroes from our past and feel that Sarah Brown is one of them. I don't remember learning about the role she played when it came to the Underground Railroad and loved reading about it here. She finds a way to help runaway slaves by putting maps into her drawings and hiding clues there. Then when that becomes too dangerous, she cleverly devises another plan.
Right away, I found myself connecting with Eden because I've been where she's been. I've gone through all that she's gone through and found myself asking the same questions...if no children, then what? And ironcially enough, while we did already have one dog, after our last attempt, we did get another puppy - so I could totally appreciate the Cricket storyline. Reading Eden's story was like looking in the mirror at times and while it brought up all that I experienced, it was also cathartic - here's an author that doesn't even know me and yet totally nailed what I went through.
I felt hope reading Eden's story and inspired reading Sarah's. Both, to some extent, are fueled by their infertility problems, but they choose not to make that the end of the world. This book is so much more than just about that, though in a small way, that does start the connection between the two women. They both come to learn, though, that motherhood can come in all forms.
This is a beautifully written book that perfectly weaves fact and fiction. I flew through the pages, wanting to read just a little more about each character, until I found myself at the very end. What I love most is that now I want to see if I can find out more about Sarah Brown - I love when books leave me wanting to delve deeper into a particular topic or person.
About the author: Sarah McCoy is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico; and The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).
Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas.
To see who else is participating in Sarah McCoy's The Mapmaker's Children tour, click here.