Hard to put this book down; it is fascinating. The library classifies it as historical fiction; it is also science fiction. Few readers experience anything like the horrors of this book, but in some ways all of us are on a railroad journey in the dark, with good times and bad times. The casual cruelty to African-Americans is still with us.
Novel takes place in 1850. Cora is 17 years old.
I used to think of outbursts of anger as inadvertent. But the anger shown by whites in this book is purposeful cruelty, designed to maintain power. The shooting of unarmed African-Americans, like Trayvon Martin in Florida, is a continuation of the persecution of slaves by people like Ridgeway in the book.
Women and minorities face some of the problems of African-Americans: demonized and victimized.
Interesting to compare this book with "To Kill a Mockingbird", where the noble white man tries to save the helpless black man. That book is patronizing.
Here are some links of interest:
Video about slavery:
Animated map showing slave and free states, 1789-1861
Map of confederacy and union
Plot, characters, analysis:
Interview with author on radio show "Fresh Air"