searching for sarah rector

Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America by Tonya Bolden

This nonfiction book takes a detailed look at a period in history that most of us know nothing about.  It is the history of Indian Territory and the slaves who worked and lived there.  It is the story of Oklahoma becoming a state, the establishment of black towns, and the changes that the oil boom brought to that area.  It is also the story of one girl who is caught up in this history, made rich by the circumstances, and just like many other black children trapped by the corruption of those around her. 

The history here is completely fascinating.  Bolden brings it to life by focusing on one girl, but that focus really is a way to enter the story rather than the bulk of the story itself.  Instead the story is the history and the twists and turns that it created.  Bolden manages to piece together the story of Sarah Rector against this history, displaying the corruption of the adults and the system, the rush of wealth that comes and goes so quickly, and the racism that drove it all.

Bolden always creates nonfiction that is compellingly written.  She shares sources at the end, offers a complete index, and her dedication to accuracy is clear throughout her books.  Using primary documents, she has managed to bring together text and illustrations that paint a complete picture of the time.

Fascinating and powerful, this look into an unknown section of our history makes for one amazing read.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from library copy.