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River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer
Historical fiction

River Sing Me Home


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Eleanor Shearer, on your first book!

by Eleanor Shearer

Quick take

A mother’s love knows no bounds in this gripping story of a formerly enslaved woman’s search for her stolen children.

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Her search begins with an ending . . .

The master of the Providence plantation in Barbados gathers his slaves and announces the king has decreed an end to slavery. As of the following day, the Emancipation Act of 1834 will come into effect. The cries of joy fall silent when he announces that they are no longer his slaves; they are now his apprentices. No one can leave. They must work for him for another six years. Freedom is just another name for the life they have always lived. So Rachel runs.

Away from Providence, she begins a desperate search to find her children—the five who survived birth and were sold. Are any of them still alive? Rachel has to know. The grueling, dangerous journey takes her from Barbados then, by river, deep into the forest of British Guiana and finally across the sea to Trinidad. She is driven on by the certainty that a mother cannot be truly free without knowing what has become of her children, even if the answer is more than she can bear. These are the stories of Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. But above all this is the story of Rachel and the extraordinary lengths to which a mother will go to find her children . . . and her freedom.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of sexual assault.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of River Sing Me Home.

Why I love it

I have always been a sucker for a good quest story. Drop it in a historical setting? Even better. But it’s not too often that I come across one that centers a Black female protagonist. And that is only the beginning of what drew me to River Sing Me Home. In her powerful debut, Eleanor Shearer spares us from another deep dive illustrating how enslaved women were stripped of their humanity. Instead, she shows us how these women loved and bound their families together.

When word arrives that the British have abolished slavery, Rachel runs. She runs because the children that had been snatched away from her are somewhere out there in the world and there is no time to waste. Through the kindness of other self-liberated and free Blacks that she meets along the way, she embarks on a journey where she discovers what freedom means to her and the lengths she will go to ensure that her children get to experience the same.

Why do I love this book? I love how it doesn’t shy away from the horrors of history, but confronts them in a manner filled with love and care. River Sing Me Home doesn’t leave us in despair to illustrate what resiliency post-emancipation looked like. Rather with indelible characters and rich prose, it leaves us full of hope.

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Member ratings (8,880)

  • Jessica H.

    Urbandale , IA

    This book reads like a movie with a story that demands to be seen. Rachel is inspiring as a mother who seeks the children torn from her during slavery. The journey & growth she endures is captivating.

  • Jenn D.

    Chuluota, FL

    Hauntingly beautiful and eye-opening book. You don't hear much about the slaves of the Caribbean, and this story about a mother's journey to find her children kept me alternating between hope & grief.

  • Michelle M.

    Walla Walla, WA

    So well written with the language and the imagery. I could feel the pain of the FMC and the loss that each character felt. The tragedy, pain, resilience. Excruciating that a man named himself "Nobody"

  • Morgan Z.

    Fordyce, NE

    A mother trying to find her children torn from her during slavery. The journey to find them is captivating! A mom with a big heart, strength, & determination! Freedom was found in the end of the book!

  • Danielle D.

    Norcross, GA

    Wanted more time with these fabulous characters. Broke my heart and put it back together again, a mother's quest to find her children drives the story and is so poignant. Wonderful story and character