Copper Sun is an incredible novel about a brave girl’s experience of the Middle Passage and slavery.
Amari’s village is raided by slaver traders and her family is killed. This pivotal event sets her on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean to South Carolina. Part One of the novel describes Amari’s struggles to survive on this horrific journey. I appreciate that Draper chose to have Amari suffer in realistic ways: she is not spared from rape, she feels hopeless and suicidal, she has lost everything. It is important for readers to know that these events really occurred and Draper writes with finesse.
The second part of the novel focuses on Amari’s life as a slave at Derbyshire Farms. There is a lot of action and plot development which keeps the reader interested, as well as many shocking chapter endings. The chapters are very short, which allows the reader to feel accomplished and entices them to keep reading ‘one more chapter’ until the wee hours of the morning. Likewise, the narrative shifts between Amari and Polly, an indentured servant, gives the reader a window into the experiences of a poor white girl on a plantation.
Copper Sun is an excellent novel to bridge social studies and English curriculum. It builds an incredible amount of background knowledge in a fun and exciting way.