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The Good Lord Bird: A Novel
by James McBride

Published: 2013-08-20
Hardcover : 432 pages
11 members reading this now
18 clubs reading this now
6 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 2 members
Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Liev Schreiber and Jaden Smith

A Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Oprah Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year

Winner of the Morning News Tournament of Champions

?A magnificent ...
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Introduction

Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Liev Schreiber and Jaden Smith

A Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Oprah Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year

Winner of the Morning News Tournament of Champions

?A magnificent new novel by the best-selling author James McBride.” ?cover review of The New York Times Book Review

?Outrageously entertaining.” ?USA Today
?James McBride delivers another tour de force” ?Essence
?So imaginative, you’ll race to the finish.” ?NPR.org
?Wildly entertaining.”?4-star People lead review
"A boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel.” ? Washington Post
 
From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade?and who must pass as a girl to survive.

Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town?with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry?whom Brown nicknames Little Onion?conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859?one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.
 

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

PART I – FREE DEEDS (Kansas)

Meet The Lord

I was born a colored man and don’t you forget it. But I lived as a colored woman for seventeen years.

My Pa was a full-blooded Negro out of Osawatomie, in Kansas Territory, north of Fort Scott, near Lawrence. Pa was a barber by trade, though that never gived him full satisfaction. Preaching the gospel was his main line. Pa didn’t have a regular church , like the type that don’t allow nothing but bingo on Wednesday nights and women setting around making paper dolls cutouts. He saved souls one at a time, cutting hair at Dutch Henry’s Tavern, which was tucked at a crossing on the California Trail that runs along the Kaw River in south Kansas Territory. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

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Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Praise:

• One of NPR's "5 Books to Look Forward To This Summer"

• One of USA Today 's "30 Hot Books for Summer"

Praise for The Good Lord Bird

"A magnificent new novel by the best-selling author James McBride…a brilliant romp of a novel…McBride—with the same flair for historical mining, musicality of voice and outsize characterization that made his memoir, The Color of Water, an instant classic—pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page." —The New York Times Book Review

"You may know the story of John Brown's unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, but author James McBride's retelling of the events leading up to it is so imaginative, you'll race to the finish."—NPR

"A boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel by James McBride...There is something deeply humane in this [story], something akin to the work of Homer or Mark Twain. McBride’s Little Onion — a sparkling narrator who is sure to win new life on the silver screen — leads us through history’s dark corridors, suggesting that “truths” may actually lie elsewhere." —The Washington Post

“Wildly entertaining…From the author of The Color of Water, a rollicking saga about one of America’s earliest abolitionists.” —People (4 star review; “People Pick”)

"McBride delivers another tour de force...A fascinating mix of history and mystery."—Essence

"A story that's difficult to put down."—Ebony

“Outrageously entertaining…The Good Lord Bird rockets toward its inevitable and, yes, knee-slapping conclusion. Never has mayhem been this much of a humdinger.” —USA Today

"A superbly written novel....McBride...transcends history and makes it come alive."—The Chicago Tribune

"Absorbing and darkly funny."—The San Francisco Chronicle

"An irrepressibly fun read."—The Seattle Times

“As in Huck Finn, this novel comes in through the back door of history, telling you something you might not know by putting you in the heat of the action…It is a compelling story and an important one, told in a voice that is fresh and apolitical.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "The Good Lord Bird, James McBride"by thewanderingjew (see profile) 03/29/14

This is really an odd, but creative, little story. I would be lying if I said I understood all of it. This is the story of Henry Shackleford and how he came to be acquainted with John Brown,... (read more)

 
  "What a yarn!"by blblanton (see profile) 01/12/14

This book reminds me of Mark Twain, Epic adventure!

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