The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
A Novel

76%

5 Critic Reviews

This is a story that popular culture doesn't often visit, and it takes a daring writer to tackle a decidedly unflattering pre-Civil War story. Yet, in McBride's capable hands, the indelicate matter of a befuddled tween from the mid-19th century provides a new perspective on one of the most decisive periods in the history of this country.
-NPR

Synopsis

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

“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, Song Yet Sung, and Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography, 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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About James McBride

See more books from this Author
James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the American classic The Color of Water and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. A graduate of Oberlin College, he has a master’s in journalism from Columbia University. McBride holds several honorary doctorates and is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.
 
Published August 20, 2013 by Riverhead Books. 433 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Good Lord Bird
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Baz Dreisinger on Aug 15 2013

When the “Old Man” smiles, our narrator tells us, “stretching them wrinkles horizontal gived the impression of him being plumb stark mad. Seemed like his peanut had poked out the shell all the way.” Delicious zingers like this come by the paragraph, part of what makes the novel such a rollicking good time.

Read Full Review of The Good Lord Bird: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 03 2013

Outrageously funny, sad, and consistently unflattering, McBride puts a human face on a nation at its most divided.

Read Full Review of The Good Lord Bird: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Bobbi Booker on Aug 23 2013

This is a story that popular culture doesn't often visit, and it takes a daring writer to tackle a decidedly unflattering pre-Civil War story. Yet, in McBride's capable hands, the indelicate matter of a befuddled tween from the mid-19th century provides a new perspective on one of the most decisive periods in the history of this country.

Read Full Review of The Good Lord Bird: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Christine Brunkhorst on Aug 17 2013

The novel had me running to the Internet to flesh out my skeletal knowledge of John Brown, which is a good purpose of a book, but not the only one. 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...

Read Full Review of The Good Lord Bird: A Novel | See more reviews from Star Tribune

Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Eggertson on Dec 31 2013

Despite the plot's potential, the novel moves slowly. In Henry, McBride has not created an entirely sympathetic or convincing character...Where McBride shines in his depiction of lesser characters, like Sibonia...

Read Full Review of The Good Lord Bird: A Novel | See more reviews from Toronto Star

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76%

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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