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The Big Thrill Recommends: THE ORPHAN by Sylvia Maultash Warsh

Recommended by Catherine Conmy

Book Cover: THE ORPHANSylvia Maultash Warsh’s newest novel, THE ORPHAN, takes readers on a journey through the unsettling atmosphere of America during the 1844 presidential election and the quest for emancipation. The election determines Texas’ status as a slave state, which parallels the rising tensions of our protagonist’s timeless struggle to find truth and self-discovery. Told through Samuel’s—an alienated 15-year-old boy’s perspective, Warsh portrays juxtapositions such as lonesomeness and belonging as well as vulnerability and power.

Samuel embodies the book’s title, THE ORPHAN after he finds his mother drowned in the Potomac River. The catastrophic event compels him to prove his mother’s death was not an accident. The truth of Samuel’s family history parallels the truth of American history, as painful and unflattering as it may be.

The title is continuously called into question as Samuel finds himself entangled with a woman who helps free slaves via the Underground Railroad. But once freed, where will they go? Who will help them? The slaves’ status mirrors Samuel’s, even with different circumstances: being alone, isolated, and in search of safety—an orphan. Samuel’s plight, as well as the characters he encounters, sheds light on the non-linear journey to self-actualization and growth, both personally and as a country.

Warsh’s accessible and lyrical writing style offers readers an immersive journey into the lives of individuals during a tumultuous period in history. By skillfully weaving together historical context and vivid characterization, Warsh brings the past to life, inviting readers to empathize with the characters’ struggles and triumphs. THE ORPHAN is a captivating tale that resonates long after the final page is turned, leaving readers with a deeper appreciation for the resilience of the human experience.


The Big Thrill Recommends: THE ORPHAN by Sylvia Maultash Warsh