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The Devil's Half Acre

The Devil's Half Acre, by Kristen Green

21/60 | Started 04.26.23 • Finished 05.09.23 | 2 stars

Oh, for all the things this book could have been. It was promised as a tale of a strong enslaved woman rising above the oppression of her white enslaver/husband in order to redeem a slave jail by making it a school for post-war free black people. It contains a wealth of research and information that would have been a great discourse on the history of slavery, and especially those enslaved people who were forced to have children by their white enslaver.

Oh, for all the things this book wasn't! Goodness, I could not get over how many times Green used the words "maybe," "perhaps," or "imagine." There is so little information available about our heroine Mary Lumpkin that there is no way this book should have been marketed as her story. In that way, I felt that the book's synopsis was more of a bait and switch; a way to draw the reader in and then under-deliver. I honestly don't understand how the publisher let this go out as advertised.

In addition to not coming through on its promised narrative, the first and last chapters really show the author's bias and come off as heavy-handed and clunky instead of factual and winsome. It's too bad, because the Green is clearly a master researcher and amassed a mountain of material for this book that sadly fell short of her intended end. There are far better books to read when it comes to the history of slavery and actual accounts of slavery by former slaves themselves. I'd choose something else.

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