Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"The girl I’d been was killed the moment Henry took that tomahawk in the head. “Charlotte” was as stone-cold dead as he was. I wasn’t acting like a man no more: in my heart I’d become one. I was a soldier, right through to the core."

Buffalo Soldier

Carnegie winner: 2015
Author: Tanya Landman

Following the story of Charlotte, an African-American slave hailing from the deep South of America after the Civil War.  Isolated and alone following the harrowing torture, rape and subsequent death of those she feels closest to, Charlotte feels anything but emancipated given the prejudice that the colour of her skin and her gender solicit. 

Disguising herself as a man, using the clothes of a dead man, Charlotte enlists as a soldier in the United States Army under the moniker Charley O’Hara.  Charley soon discovers, however, that within this social strata she and her fellow soldiers are still viewed with distaste and clear segregation exists.  Years of frustration and anger are vented through taking part in attacks against Native Americans who she has been led to believe are sub-human. 

The history explored by the book is a bloody and highly politicised one, based around identity politics and the misrepresentation of groups of people as somehow being less valuable.  Fast paced and filled with action, the story romps along but provides much fodder around human rights, understanding and acceptance.

A poignant novel that deftly explores what it means to be free and the ways that liberty can easily impinge upon others. In equal parts challenging and compassionate, the book shines a light on a turbulent point in American history.



Why we chose this book ...

"This is tough, uncompromising & thought-provoking writing that challenges outward perceptions of the world and questions "airbrushed" history. But, most of all, this is beautiful writing that demands to be read. Plus Tanya is lovely!"