Cover image for Trapped between the lash and the gun : a boy's journey
Trapped between the lash and the gun : a boy's journey
Whitmore, Arvella.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
184 pages ; 22 cm
Twelve-year-old Jordan is becoming dangerously involved with a street gang when he is suddenly transported through time to become a slave on the plantation of his ancestors.
Reading Level:
630 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 5.0 27935.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.3 10 Quiz: 19678 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


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Jordan Scott has made his decision. To stay in the hood. With the gang. The Cobras can be rough, but since Daddy left, they're the only ones who make him feel like he belongs to something that will help him become a man. And besides, it's not like he'll be trapped in this gang thing forever....

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Jordan, 12, is about to join a rough street gang when he suddenly finds himself back in time with his slave ancestors, forced to pick cotton under the lash, sold at a slave auction, and then finally on his way to freedom on the Underground Railroad. At the end, he returns to the present time with a heartfelt sense of history and family identity, and he finds the courage to risk his life and leave the gang. The time travel will draw readers in and so will the well-researched detail of what it was like to be a slave; but, unfortunately, the fiction is generic, a kind of contrived docunovel, with characters explaining the situation to the jarringly naive newcomer ("Can't you sneak out on your lunch hour?" Jordan asks a slave kid). Perhaps the most dramatic part of this book is the long note by the white author: after the book was accepted for publication, a distant relative's genealogical research turned up a long-suppressed family secret: Arvella Whitmore is, in fact, the great-granddaughter of a slave. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

From its lurid title to its lackluster plotting and prose, this time-slip fantasy of an African-American boy who travels back to the antebellum South to be taught the lessons of slavery firsthand delivers far less than the premise might suggest. In order to become a full-fledged member of the Cobra gang, 12-year-old Jordan must raise the money for a gun. He steals his grandfather's gold watch, which once belonged to the slaveholder who owned one of Jordan's forebears. On his way to the pawnshop, Jordan rushes through an underpass and suddenly finds himself on a Southern plantation. Whitmore (The Bread Winner) touches upon many of the evils of slavery‘backbreaking labor, squalid living conditions, physical punishment, auctions, death, even, glancingly, miscegenation‘but with the formulaic writing and superficial characterizations, readers are not likely to be moved. The lesson that Jordan takes back to the city‘that gangs are the contemporary version of slavery‘may be a profound one, but here it seems facile and unconvincing. Ages 11-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Determined not to move to an integrated suburb, 12-year-old Jordan Henning Scott plans to run away and live with his newfound gang friends, but the heirloom watch he steals from his grandfather to finance this venture transports him back in time. Finding himself in the old South, Jordan meets Uriah, a slave boy who takes him to the Henning plantation. Jordan is presumed to be a runaway slave, put to exhausting work picking cotton, and whipped when he collapses. After he tries to run away, he is sold to a slave trader and then bought by a sympathizer who gives him freedom papers and promises to send him to Canada if he will return to the Henning plantation and convince Uriah to leave. The master, who turns out to be Uriah's father, had recently brought the boy into the big house and given him his watch for safekeeping. When Jordan finds the watch again, he is returned to his own time. Left behind, Uriah takes the papers and Jordan's name to Canada and becomes Jordan's great-great-great-great-grandfather. Readers who can overlook awkward dialogue and an unlikely plot will be caught up in the boy's efforts to survive and appropriately appalled by the details of daily life. The premise of a modern eye looking at the grim realities of slavery was used more successfully, but for older readers, by Octavia Butler in Kindred (Beacon, 1988); Trapped, however, might intrigue readers looking for quick-moving historical fiction.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.