The Light Across The River # 2   -     By: Stephanie Reed
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The Light Across The River # 2

Kregel Publications / 2008 / Paperback

$8.46 (CBD Price)
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Product Description

In this sequel to Across the Wide River, the Rankin home is still a beacon of freedom on the Underground Railroad. The book offers a further glimpse into a dark period of America's past.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Kregel Publications
Publication Date: 2008
Dimensions: 8.00 X 5.25 (inches)
ISBN: 0825435749
ISBN-13: 9780825435744
Availability: In Stock
Ages: 9-14

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Publisher's Description

In this powerful sequel to "Across the Wide River," the Rankin home is still a beacon of freedom on the Underground Railroad. Johnny, the seventh of thirteen children in the Rankin family, is growing up quickly and in 1837 is eager to take on the same responsibilities as the rest of his family. But Johnny's father and his brother Lowry think Johnny is too young and too hotheaded to help with something as important and secretive as the Underground Railroad. Johnny understands the need for secrecy, but sometimes the secret is just too good to keep to himself This engaging novel for young adults offers a further glimpse into a dark period of America's past, and profiles the courageous and godly people who helped bring about its end.


Stephanie Reed, author of The Light Across the River, makes it clear that being part of the Underground Railroad was a very exciting adventure, yet one that required much care and responsibility. Johnny yearns to be an important part of the Railroad with his family, but when will his father be able to trust him? Will Johnny ever learn to control his tongue so his father can trust him with secrets that matter?

Reed keeps the story moving chronologically through a little more than a year’s time. At 11 years old, Johnny is proud of his brothers’ and father’s work and is anxious for acceptance into their world. He runs into a slave escapee, Eliza, who quickly becomes a close friend. Her extreme courage and unwavering faith become motivating factors in helping Johnny grow into the man he knows he needs to be. A very dramatic scene is when Eliza is escaping from Kentucky with her infant son Mose. She finds the river ice has begun to break up and melt. It’s either cross with the likely chance of drowning or be whipped and sold to a stranger. She trusts God for each step across the floating chunks of ice.

Everyone in the town of Ripley seems to know that Johnny can’t keep a secret. He has been taught by his family the wisdom of Proverbs 21:23: “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles.” Nevertheless, he lets Eliza’s story slip to a family friend, and the stark reality of his own weakness causes him to wonder whether he will cause Eliza to be recaptured. It takes near death situations in the Rankin family to bring him to the awareness of the importance of holding one’s tongue. His care for Eliza and his understanding of the seriousness of the work lead him into manhood and an active role as a helper in assisting the slaves to freedom.

Johnny has a tender heart and longs to be heroic, but his immaturity and quick tongue shatter his dreams through most of the story. The ridicule he gets from his family and the community makes him overly self-conscious of his weakness. His father’s wisdom in setting restraints on Johnny, yet still endeavoring to train him, is exemplary. When Eliza enters the story, Johnny’s role in helping the slaves becomes more of a reality than a fantasy.

Although it takes a few chapters for the action to build, this story becomes very intense and hard to put down. It contains all you could want in an historical novel. Danger, courage, suspense, corruption and heroism are carefully woven throughout. The Rankin family and their friends exhibit Christ-like attributes of love, courage, and a lack of vengeance toward their enemies. The author tries to tie in a little romance now and then, which doesn’t seem helpful for the age group of the reader. Otherwise, lessons in history, responsibility, and in trusting your parents make the book excellent for pre-teen to teen years. The story is very enjoyable and exciting to read. Karin Litchfield,

Product Reviews

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Displaying items 1-5 of 8
Page 1 of 2 12 Next
  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Two thumbs, way, way up!
    May 29, 2012
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I must say that this is one of the best books I have ever read, and I am quite the avid reader. From warm, family moments to nail-biting suspense, I enjoyed this from page one all the way to the very end. I highy recommend you try this book and its predecessor: Across the Wide River. Stephanie Reed has become a favorite author of mine and I hope she writes more historical fiction books soon.
  2. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    March 22, 2010
    Home School Book Review
    The family of John Rankin, an abolitionist minister, lived in Ripley, OH. Author Stephanie Reed chronicled the coming of age of the oldest Rankin son, Lowry, in Across the Wide River. In this sequel, she focuses on Lowrys younger brother Johnny. In the fall of 1837, a Kentucky slave woman who has come to be known as Eliza helps her husband George escape; he is rescued by two other of Johnnys older brothers, Cal and Sam. Then in March of 1838 Eliza herself escapes with her baby Mose across the breaking ice. Now twelve, Johnny gets to see her and hear her story before Cal and another brother David spirit her on to the next station of the Underground Railroad from which she eventually reaches Canada. Johnny wants to help too, but he has a bad habit of blurting things out. There was a saying, If you want to know whats going on in Ripley, go ask Johnny. Afraid that he might accidentally spill the beans about the family business, Mr. Rankin sends Johnny with Lowry to Cincinnati where he is to study at Lane Seminary. However, while there he tells the story of Eliza to Harriet Beecher Stowe. His conscience bothers him about it, but he figures that everything will be all right--until three years later Eliza returns to the Rankins with a French Canadian to help her daughter and grandchildren escape. Will they succeed, or will they get caught? And will Johnny be able to help this time, or will his having told the story to someone else present a possible hindrance? Reading good historical fiction based upon real events and people of the past is a wonderful way to appreciate and understand history. And it is especially beneficial to learn about the lives of those whose actions were guided by a sincere faith in God and His word. Stephanie Reeds The Light Across the River, which is based on written records by several Rankin family members, including John, Cal, Sam, and Johnny himself, is a winner on both counts!
  3. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    August 28, 2009
    Cathi Hassan
    The Light Across the River is historical fiction based strongly on true history. Rev. John Rankin and his family were strong abolitionists who, from their farm perched above the Ohio River, helped around 2000 slaves on their way to freedom. As they grew old enough, his thirteen children became part of the family business. One of these children was Johnny Rankin, and this novel is basically seeing events through his story. While the bigger picture is about the drama of conducting slaves safely to the next station, there is also the more personal story of Johnny maturing and learning some valuable life lessons. Johnny is known as a blabbermouth, so it isn't an easy thing for his parents to trust him with any knowledge of the people moving through their home or of other conductors. So many lives would be affected if he blabbed any secrets. He also needed some attitude adjustments about his oldest brother Lowry and his place in the family. On one hand The Light Across the River deals with the true story of the Underground Railroad, but on the other it is the story of a young boy growing up and dealing with problems many others of his age can identify with.Personally, I was intrigued with the story of the real Eliza from Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe's world-changing book. As it turns out, Eliza was a real traveler who came across the Ohio on breaking ice, stopping at the Rankins' home. Eliza's incredible story mingles with Johnny's and eventually, through the Rankins' connections to Lane Theological Seminary, becomes part of a novel that helped to spread the ideas of abolition.I highly recommend this novel for any mid-grade readers, and I even encourage older readers to look into it and the previous Rankin novel, Across the Wide River. For any home schoolers, I urge you to include these books as part of your reading program, something that you can discuss along with studies on slavery, abolition, and the Underground Railroad.
  4. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    December 3, 2008
    Cindy Thomson
    The Light Across the River is an inspiring story based on true events. Stephanie Reed has done her homework in researching the Underground Railroad at the Kentucky-Ohio border and has brought to life the lives of the men and women who sought to protect the lives of slaves. The book earns five stars for engaging prose.
  5. Washington state
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    August 14, 2008
    Susan Marlow
    Washington state
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Johnny Rankin cant keep a secret. This wouldnt be such an issue if his family (the true-life Rankin family of Ripley, Ohio) were not involved in the Underground Railroad. Johnnys loose tongue could endanger many lives. Oh, how he wants to help lead slaves to freedom in Canada, but he simply cannot be trusted to keep his mouth shut. Then one day he is called upon to help a woman and her baby escape. He learns of her incredible crossing over the half-frozen Ohio River and lets the story slip to none other than Harriet Beecher Stowe. Will Johnnys indiscretion be the cause of Elizas capture and return to slavery? Set between the years 1837-1841, The Light Across the River gives readers a fresh view of the incredible story of the slave Elizaimmortalized in Uncle Toms Cabin, the book that set a nation aflame just before the Civil War. Chapters switch points of view between Johnny Rankin and Eliza, and tell the story behind the story of not only Elizas escape but also how she returns for her family, aided by the Rankin family. The authors in-depth portrayal of Johnny and his family is laced with true-life accounts, gleaned from the journals Johnny wrote later in life. The Light Across the River has everything I, as a homeschool mom, love to see in historical fiction: history, action, suspense, and adventure. Its a page-turning story of real people living out their convictions. Highly recommended.
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