Blog Tour: Red Sky Over America
About the Book
Title: Red Sky over America
Author: Tamera Lynn Kraft
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Release Date: February 11, 2018
In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves. America’s classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.
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Set during the turbulent time of the Civil War, Red Sky Over America is a powerful story that explores how the war divided families, churches, and communities because of different beliefs about states’ rights and slavery. Playing off the expression “Red sky at night, sailors delight…” the title does an excellent job of capturing the effect the time period had on America the character and America the country. I struggled a bit to relate to the protagonist, America, because she waffled between sticking to her convictions about abolition and adhering to social customs and her father’s mindset, but she was very much a product of her time. Several points of view were used to tell the story, including one of the slaves, which I enjoyed and effectively immersed me into the era and personal situations of the characters. Colloquial dialogue was used, but not to the point of being distracting. Even though I am well-versed in the Civil War era, I was unfamiliar with the role played by Ohio and Oberlin College. The author wove lots of interesting information throughout the story without being textbookish or dry. I was disappointed that every slave owner in the book was portrayed as evil and/or unfeeling and somewhat cliché. Because of the subject matter, there are periodic episodes of violence, and although difficult to read, are not gratuitous. This is the first in a series, and I look forward to the next book.
I received a copy of this book for free from CelebrateLit Publicity, and a favorable review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the Author
Guest posts from Tamera Lynn Kraft100 Steps to Freedom
by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Before the Civil War, Ohio had the largest Underground Railroad of any state in the Union. It is believed that every county in Ohio had a route. Many slaves would escape over the Ohio River and through Ohio on their way to Canada. This was a dangerous undertaking because, even though Ohio was a free state, the Fugitive Slave Law made it so anyone helping escaped slaves could be fined and jailed.
One small town, Ripley, Ohio, is believed to have helped more slaves escape than any town in Ohio. Ripley is located on the banks of the Ohio River across from Mason County, Kentucky.
One man who helped slaves escape was a freed black man named John Parker. Parker was educated by his master in Virginia and eventually bought his freedom. He traveled to Ohio and opened a foundry on Front Street facing the Ohio River. He was the first black man to earn a patent for one of the inventions he used in his foundry. At night, he would search the Ohio River looking for escaped slaves and helping them find their way to an Underground Railroad Station.
Rev. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, owned a house on top of a hill in Ripley. He built one hundred steps to the house that could be seen on the other side of the river. At night, he would light a lantern and hang it from the porch to signal slaves that it was safe to cross. It is estimated that over 2,000 slaves escaped through the Rankin House. None of them were ever recaptured. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, about the escape of the slave, Eliza, after hearing the story from Rev. Rankin.
Rev. John Rankin’s house is in my novel, Red Sky Over America. John Parker also is introduced as a minor character. The story takes place on the Ohio River in Kentucky across from Ripley where all these exciting events happened.
Oberlin College: A School Ahead of Its Time
My current novel series, Ladies of Oberlin, is about 3 women roommates who graduated from one of the most amazing colleges in American history, Oberlin College. Book 1, Red Sky Over America focuses on America, a woman attending Oberlin who is an abolitionist studying to become a missionary. The problem is her father is a slave owner. Here’s a little bit about this amazing college.
Oberlin College, founded in 1833 in Northern Ohio, was a college ahead of its time in many ways. In 1835, it became the first college in the United States to regularly admit African Americans. It’s also the oldest co-educational college in the US. In 1837, it admitted four women, three of whom graduated and earned a college degree. Mary Jane Patterson, another Obeberlin graduate, became the first African American woman in 1862 to earn a Bachelor of Arts college degree.
One of Oberlin’s founders once bragged that “Oberlin is peculiar in that which is good”. Oberlin was peculiar in many ways in advancing the causes of the time. Charles Finney, the second president of the college, helped it earn its controversial reputation. He was the fiery evangelist of the Second Great Awakening, a Christian revivalist movement in the early and mid 1800s.
Oberlin College was the hotbed of abolitionist activity and a stop for the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. It was once called “the town that started the Civil War” because of its participation in the Oberlin Wellington Rescue in 1858. Slave catchers came to Oberlin to capture an escaped slave and return him to Kentucky. Most of the town came to the slave’s aid and rescued him. For their trouble, over twenty were arrested and put on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. During the raid on Harper’s Ferry by John Brown, three men from Oberlin participated.
Oberlin College was also well known for the women who graduated from the college and participated in the suffrage and prohibition movements. Lucy Stone, considered a pioneer for the women’s movement, graduated from Oberlin College in 1847.
Oberlin was also very well known in the missionary movement of the late 1800s. Between 1860 and 1900, 90% of missionaries sent overseas by the American Missionary Society were graduates of Oberlin College. Between 1899 and 1901, thirteen missionaries from Oberlin were martyred during the Boxer Rebellion of China. An arch in Tappan Square at the center of Oberlin pays honor to their sacrifices.
Here are Tamera's Remaining Blog Stops:
June 3: Ansel Book Blog
June 4: Artistic Nobody
June 4: Big Reader Site
June 5: Christian Author, J.E. Grace
June 6: Simple Harvest Reads
June 6: Reading is my Superpower
June 7: Two Points of Interest
June 7: Margaret Kazmierczak
June 8: A Baker's Perspective
June 9: Pause for Tales
June 9: Red Headed Book Lady
June 10: Bibliophile Reviews
June 11: Texas Book-aholic
June 11: Have a Wonderful Day
To celebrate her tour, Tamera is giving away a themed basket with autographed books of Resurrection of Hope, Alice’s Notions, Red Sky Over America, a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (the book is mentioned in the novel) and a copy of Then Sings My Soul (stories about the hymns), plus a $10 Amazon Card!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cebb/red-sky-over-america-celebration-tour-giveaway