The Mapmaker’s Children Book Review – #FromLefttoWrite


I am appreciating my participation in the From Left to Write book club so much! It’s really helping me to expand my reading list. My most recent selection, The Mapmaker’s Children, is no exception.

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril. Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way. 

The book is based in both eras but leans heavy on historical accuracy. One thing that stood out to me is how Eden’s struggle for children had weighed her so down and the character of Cleo, her precocious 11 year old neighbor, lightened her life. In contrast, Sarah had found purpose in life through helping others and didn’t seem nearly as weighed down. She carried a different burden.

Once when I was talking to a friend who was struggling with having children I apologized and said “I don’t know how you feel.” She replied, “You’re right you don’t.” It wasn’t said with insult but rather acknowledgment. I didn’t forget the lesson that she gave me. You don’t always have the right things to say but you have to make the effort to connect with people. The connection of Eden and Cleo reminded me that we actually need nosy neighbors and history of a place to really live. These stories are some of the things I love about getting together with friends and hearing their stories.

I would highly recommend that you consider picking The Mapmaker’s Children. It is a well-written and beautiful story that transitions between both eras seamlessly.  This may seem like I strange review but From Left to Write isn’t strictly a review club. Rather it’s a club that uses books as inspiration, like the best books that actually teach you something.

This post was inspired by The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy, a novel about two women are connected by an Underground Railroad doll. Join From Left to Write on May 19th as we discuss The Mapmaker’s Children. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


  1. says

    It always amazes me how a novel can show us what life is like through someone else’s eyes. I’m glad that you were able to reach out to your friend!

  2. says

    That’s so very true. I feel like I’m really bad at knowing what to say when people share personal stories with me, but often, I’ve found that they’re really not looking for me to say anything–there are no “magic words” I can say to make them feel better, but just being there for them and listening makes a huge difference. :]


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