Paul-Edward Logan loves his family and has always assumed he would live on his father’s land his whole life. He has a close relationship with his three brothers, Hammond, George and Robert. In fact, when the son (Mitchell) of Mr. Logan’s former slave (and current horse trainer) beats Paul, his brothers defend him. This does not put a stop to the abuse, however, because Mitchell hates Paul. It seems that before the war, Mr. Logan fell in love with one of his slaves (Deborah) and fathered two children with her while his wife was still alive. That would be Paul and his sister Cassie.

Although Paul’s father treats all of his children the same, he knows the rest of society does not respect Paul and Cassie the way he has taught his other sons to do. As Paul reaches adolescence, he learns that he will have the same privileges and opportunities his brothers will have. Paul begins to resent both of his parents and sets off to begin a new life where he does not have to depend on any white man for help.

Mildred Taylor’s award winning novel loosely follows the life of her own great-grandfather as he searched for a place to call his own. Taylor allows the reader to enter into the mind and heart of this young man who faces the pain of prejudice, the betrayal of family members and the loss of a dear friend. Through it all, though, Paul never loses his sense of personal dignity. Determined to be beholden to no one, he eventually learns when and how to trust others.

The Land offers an opportunity to discuss a variety of serious social issues. Not only does the book present slavery and racism realistically, but it also provides examples of the importance of marital fidelity (and the consequences of infidelity for all those concerned) and the dignity of human work. Here is one novel that should appear on school reading lists.

Jennifer Minicus

Jennifer Minicus lives in New Jersey with her husband and son. A former French, Latin and mathematics teacher, Jennifer currently enjoys the responsibilities of a "domestic engineer", particularly making...