James D(ouglas) Forman Sheryl B. Andrews - Essay

Sheryl B. Andrews

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

As a picture of the "awful insanity of it all," [Song of Jubilee] is a success and follows the standards set up by the author's previous works which deal with wartime situations. There is a wide range of characters; the background is richly detailed; and the story is smoothly and excitingly told. However, clichés seem to creep in whenever personalities versus events are being developed. For instance, Myles never goes beyond the author's original characterization of him that he "believed in God, white motherhood, and the Virginian way of life …"; Jim's father is pigeonholed glibly as having "a soft humble manner, mild, hesitant little smile; it comes from spending your life as a cuspidor"; while the very peculiar relationship between Sharon McAdam, Myles' twin sister, and Jim is suggestively skirted around but never artistically realized since Sharon as a character is never fully realized herself but remains a symbol for frustrated Southern womanhood. Yet, thematically the author manages to convey the debilitating influence which the institution of slavery had on white and black alike and, using material cankered by strong emotion, produces a balanced and solid adventure story.

Sheryl B. Andrews, "'Song of Jubilee'," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1971 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. XLVII, No. 4, August, 1971, p. 388.