Book Review: Silent Thunder by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Silent Thunder by Andrea Davis Pinkney is a war fiction for children underlining the predicament of children living under slavery. Of course a smothered childhood is an evil curse than direct death. This story is about a few children who are bound to be slaves probably all their lives, may be because they are black and have come from some different land.

Summer is an eleven-year-old girl and his older brother Rosco live with their mom in a plantation in Virginia, the American Southern. They don’t know who their father is. The children are brought to the master on their birthdays so that the master Gideon Parnell can evaluate their growth and devise plans of profits from them. He may sell them or put for rigorous work, the way adults do.

Rosco, the protagonist, of the book holds a silent thunder within his heart; he wants to live a free life on his own terms. Rosco works as a personal, close helper to Lowell Parnell, the master’s son, and begins to learn reading and writing by overhearing the Lowell’s lessons. And for slaves education is prohibited. One day he thieves a book of Lowell and gives it to Summer for learning reading and writing. However, their mother becomes agitated upon finding that. But soon Thea, a reputed slave, comes to know about Summer’s secret and begins talking to her in puzzles to bring about the matter of silent thunder which implies the craving for freedom.

The year is 1862, in America civil war is on. Then Lincoln has been heard of announcing freedom and equality for blacks and they can join the army to fight the war. When the news reach to the Parnell plantation, Rosco and Clem who tried running once but got caught, begin preparations to flee the camp.

Soon, the master suffered a stroke in a church and as the doctor Bates says his chances are thinning out. And mama then takes care of him. Mama has learnt reading and writing from the master. A secret unfolds that the master is the father of Summer and Rosco. Soon, a new master from Louisiana may come to take the charge of the plantation. Dr. Bates is a silent protester of slavery. One day he shows the newspaper of Lincoln Union, showing the victory of Fredericksburg to Rosco.

On the eve of Cotillion party Dr. Bates comes late and when he reaches there he speaks about equality and freedom, and thus others frown. White or the masters are already of the opinion that emancipation of slaves is not a right thing to happen in America politically. The master class mourns that victory and as an upshot keeps a watch on the road. Before the party it was Dr. Bates who helped the boys to reach across the river. Thus he was late for his own party. The boys take the Underground Railroad and reach the North to join the army.