Author Peter Leavell forges an unprecedented tale of tragedy and triumph amid the backdrop of the Civil War through the story of Tad, a very clever slave boy who comes of age as America’s war reaches the sea islands of South Carolina. Tad’s desire to better himself is obstructed by the color of his skin, until Northern soldiers force the evacuation of white plantation owners, setting 10,000 slaves free in a single day. These circumstances seem like a dream, except that the newly freed slaves have no money, no education, and little hope for the future—unless someone rises up to lead them.
Based on true events, Gideon’s Call is the dramatic tale of a young man who battles the shame of his past and faces the horrors of war and unimaginable prejudice to become the deliverer of thousands of freed slaves.
Brief physical description
Tad is small, with light black skin. Over the period of the story, he grows to be a large man—his muscles go from lean and wiry to thick and firm. High forehead, firm jaw, deep, searching eyes. Warm, friendly smile that makes people trust him.
The cover depiction of Tad shocked me. It was Tad! But I’d kept half an eye on a painting by Don Troiani who captured the South Carolina Volunteers in uniform. I loved it.
Strengths and weaknesses
Tad is loyal. He loves his mother dearly. He tends to bolt at the first sign of trouble when confronted with an emotional problem. Gets a bit obsessed about things from time to time. Natural leader. The part I like about Tad best is his curiosity. He won’t admit he doesn’t know something, but he loves to find out new tidbits of knowledge.
Quirk (if any)
He runs from his emotions. Something in his past has caused him need to flee when he’s conflicted. Tad is a wonderful mixture of passion and honor, as well as fear and self-preservation. He is like any of us, I suppose. Except he has a hidden past that changes the course of the story.
I imagined what it would be like if I grew up on the islands, to live under slavery with no education, no hope, and suddenly be freed in a single day. I could only do it through the energy of youth. Because they adapt to situations quickly. They aren’t as set in their ways as older folks, say, in their twenties. Ouch!
Background to the story
Northern soldiers force the evacuation of white plantation owners, setting 10,000 slaves free in a single day. These circumstances seem like a dream to the young man Tad, but the newly freed slaves have no money, no education, no leadership, and little hope for the future. This is the story of how a boy grows into a man facing the horrors of war and unimaginable prejudice – fighting the urge to run from the shame of his family and his past – to become the leader and deliverer of thousands of freed slaves.