16 January 2008
2006 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner
In 1859, a large slave auction was held to sell Pierce Butler’s slaves. During the 2-day slave auction, over 400 slaves were sold. For the duration of the auction, a heavy torrential rain fell from the sky, and because of the rain, this moment in history was known as “the weeping time.” From this historical event, the author Julius Lester wove fact with fiction to tell a compelling story about the attitudes towards slavery and how this large slave auctions affected the slaves involved.
Another interesting thing about this book is its format. Though Lester did not intend Day of Tears to be a play, the format of the book makes it possible to read the book aloud in a group setting. The format also makes it easier for the readers to visualize the story as it unfolds, and makes the characters and events even more real and poignant. In addition to the narration, Lester included flashback memories from each key character in the book and interspersed them within the narrations. This gives the reader a more rounded picture of each character.