Friday, March 30, 2018

"The Day I Saw the Hummingbird" by Paulette Mahurin

The Day I Saw the Hummingbird
by Paulette Mahurin

The Day I Saw the Hummingbird by Paulette Mahurin

Author Paulette Mahurin stops by to share an excerpt from her latest book, The Day I Saw the Hummingbird. You can also read my review.
For more books by this author, please check out my blog post on The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap and my blog post on The Seven Year Dress.

On the eve of his tenth birthday, a young slave’s life is turned upside down. The unthinkable events that led up to the day Oscar Mercer saw a hummingbird test the limits of this young boy’s body, mind and soul. Gripped with fear and filled with anger, Oscar faces raw, crushing hatred aimed at him and everyone he loves. In a time when a nation was ripped apart geographically, economically, politically and morally, comes a story of a courageous boy who began life as a slave on a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana and escapes via The Underground Railroad. Through the efforts and good will of kind, brave people determined to free slaves, Oscar faces devastating obstacles and dangers. Struggling with his inner impulse to seek revenge for the injustices and violence levied on his family and friends, he discovers that in bondage you pray to God, but in freedom, you meet Him.
From the award-winning, best-selling author of The Seven Year Dress comes a story that brings another cadre of memorable characters alive on pages that pulse with hatred and kindness, cruelty and compassion, despair and hope. Oscar’s journey on the Underground Railroad is a heart-pounding ride that the reader will remember long after this story ends.

I came to understand that freedom wasn’t just escaping the chains, guns, dogs, and oppressive laws - the institutional barriers that existed for me and people like me. And still do to this day. No! My personal freedom came from inside of me when I realized that, no matter where I am, my thoughts and feelings are the invisible chains shackling me, the master enslaving me. My attitudes shaped my life. And life is too short to harbor bitterness. There is too much to be grateful for to burn daylight on resentment. That was the realization that set me free.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"A superb portrayal of courage and strength of the human spirit. A poignant and unforgettable page-turner. I loved every page." ~ Jan Petken, bestselling author of The Guardian of Secrets
"Riveting must read that presents a deep and textured depiction of slavery and the nightmare to freedom. A story that must be told. A true masterpiece." ~ Ellie Midwood, bestselling and award winning author of The Girl from Berlin and Emilia
"This was a novel I will not forget for a long time, as it depicts not only the evils of slavery and racism, but the solidarity and compassion of friends and strangers who work for good. It is a journey for the reader that is highly recommended." ~ Oregongirl
"Another fine example of history brought to life. The book is filled with words of wisdom about life and endurance - not only for slaves seeking freedom, but also for those never bound by the chains of slavery. In a world filled with hatred, this book gives hope for a way to stop perpetuating the violence. The writing and characters will touch your heart." ~ R3
"Ms. Mahurin's book offers both insights and hope with regard to our past, present, and future." ~ Chris

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
The book begins and ends in 1914, when Oscar Mercer attends a talk given by Booker T. Washington honoring Harriet Tubman, the woman responsible for coordinating the Underground Railway and, therefore, securing Oscar’s freedom.
Oscar reminisces about his life, from his birth in 1852 into a life of slavery until the time he gains his freedom, aged ten. As a child, he stands by helplessly as friends and family members suffer the cruelty inflicted by the plantation’s foreman. When he is five, the slaves start hearing tales of “a Negro woman who was working with a group to help free slaves.” That woman is Harriet Tubman. We never meet her, but her presence runs through the narrative. Another milestone in Oscar’s life is when he gets the opportunity to learn how to read and write. He is drawn to comment, “Why do learning things feel so good?” Then, on the day he sees the hummingbird in the field, a chain of events is set into motion that ends in tragic consequences but eventually leads to his freedom. Armed with a Bible, a dictionary, and the skills taught to him by “conductors” with the Underground Railway, Oscar finally makes it to freedom. It is a gruelling journey from Louisiana to New York City, during which his faith is tested and he learns the true meaning of freedom.
Throughout, Oscar maintains his spirit and resolve by recalling his mother’s words of wisdom: “My mama’s womb had given me life, but it was her wisdom implanted in my brain that kept me alive.” She imbues in him the belief that “Skin color don’t make us no less a person.” This belief is reinforced when he meets the many (white) people who are willing to help him on his trip along the Underground Railway: “I was overwhelmed with relief when I realized that people are people. Simple as that. And the color of my skin doesn’t make me less of a person. It doesn’t separate or define my humanness. No, what makes some less human is hatred and hateful actions.”
In the Foreword, the author gives us some background into how she came to write this story: “In many southern states, educating slaves to read or write was illegal. […] I incorporated the element of educating slaves into this story and, in particular, with the protagonist and narrator of the story. […] Many of the scenes depicted were adapted from historical notes, letters, and other documentation from slaves who lived to tell their stories.” She succeeds admirably in giving us a look into the psyche of the young slave Oscar and rendering a heartbreaking account of the atrocities committed in the name of greed and prejudice.
Oscar’s story will haunt you for a long time after you have finished reading.

About the Author
Paulette Mahurin
Paulette Mahurin is a best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.
Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the top ten bestseller lists on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw the Hummingbird, was released in September 2017.
Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.