Book Review: The Copper Sun Will Shine Again

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Book Review: The Copper Sun Will Shine Again

Leila Harper, Beyond the Gates Editor / Co-Editor-in-Chief

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The 2006 Coretta Scott Award-Winning Young Adult fiction novel by Sharon M. Draper is titled Copper Sun. Copper Sun tells the story Amari, a 15-year-old girl from Africa, who was taken from her peaceful village to the American Colonies, to be sold in slavery. Draper does not avoid the gritty details of what life was like for a young African girl taken from her home and boarded on a ship to uncertainty.

Amari, the main protagonist of Copper Sun, is an incredibly sweet character. She is very smart, and her intelligence is put to the test when she has to learn an entirely new language (English) in a short time. She picks us how to do brand new tasks very quickly, and she has a strong inner compass. Amari was thrown into a horrible circumstance, but did not lose all hope. She is such a strong character, she keeps going, even in the face of so much torment.

Polly is the second main character. She is an indentured white girl forced to work in the same conditions, more or less, as Amari, for Mr. Derby and his son at their mansion and rice plantation. Polly’s parents died from smallpox, but not without leaving her to get rid of their debt, 14 years of it. Polly was also taught how to read and write, and though her ego boosted her above the people around her, she was not a bad person. Although she grew up not liking black people, being in the same position as Mr. Derby’s slaves and meeting and learning about them and their lives brought her to understanding. Spoiler alert: she and Amari even become friends through their life-and-death predicament.

After Amari is purchased for Clay Derby (Mr. Derby’s son), she has to learn how to cook, clean, speak more English, and, essentially, be a slave. The Derby men are not good people. Aside from owning slaves, they don’t treat them well at all. Amari and Polly live walking on thin ice. The only way to relieve the stress of being here at all is the other people. Teenie and Tidbit, a mother slave and son, teach them the ropes as well as keep their hopes alive. Even when a formidable situation is in their hands, they stick together and make a plan to save Amari and Polly from the Derby’s.

I really liked this book. I read it once as a little kid—and I’m sure the greater themes escaped me—and remember enjoying it. It was even better this time because I definitely understood more than I did then. The theme of hope in a hopeless world is a timeless one. Draper wrote about hope as well as memory keeping us alive. “You know, certain people are chosen to survive. I don’t know why, but you are one of those who must remember the past and tell those yet unborn. You must live” (Page 37). This quote from the story almost speaks for itself. As long as we remember someone, they aren’t gone. We must keep going. Life isn’t easy, nor is it perfect, but giving up is never an option, because life is beautiful, even if it doesn’t seem like it just yet. The sun is just beyond the horizon. We’ll get there soon.

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About the Writer
Leila Harper, Staff writer

The odd one out in her family, Leila Harper has always been a reader. Born and raised in California, she has always been an obedient and quiet adolescent....

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