With numerous titles under her belt, Sharon Draper is a force in both YA and Middle Grade fiction. Her books aim to inspire children and young adults and let them know they aren’t alone. In her writing, she executes just that.
My younger sister enjoys her Clubhouse Mystery series, we listened to her plantation novel Stella by Starlight, and I’ve devoured a few of her YA novels myself.
Copper Sun truly engrained itself in my memory. As one of the only books to deal directly with slavery and the middle passage in YA fiction, Ms. Draper tackles this difficult subject by creating a beautiful personal character. Amari is taken from her home village in Africa and forced to sail away from her homeland into slavery.
Specifically, the magic of this book started with Africa. Instead of starting with slavery or even the middle passage she starts with home. It’s a refreshing beginning world to show the beauty and resilience of the continent in a literary world where “black people needed saving from savage Africa”.
Even as Ms. Draper shows the majesty of Africa she shows the atrocity of slavery. She doesn’t shy away from demonstrating the sickening practices of murders, beatings, and rape. But this story is first and foremost a story about a girl, which pulls the reader into this narrative. It’s about a girl that could be you, me, or someone we know personally. We sympathize with Amari because we see ourselves in her story.