ISBN: 0440219736
ISBN 13: 9780440219736
By: Gary Paulsen Jerry Pinkney

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Civil War Currently Reading Fiction Historical Historical Fiction School Slavery To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

So many readers have written and asked: What happened to Sarny, the young slave girl who learned to read in Nightjohn? Extraordinary things happened to her, from the moment she fled the plantation in the last days of the Civil War, suddenly a free woman in search of her sold-away children, until she found them and began a new life. Sarny's story gives a panoramic view of America in a time of trial, tragedy, and hoped-for change, until her last days in the 1930s.From the Hardcover edition.

Reader's Thoughts

Rena Jane

I enjoyed this young adult book very much. I haven't read the first book, Nightjohn, yet. Now I'm prompted to. This is the continued story of one of the Nightjohn characters. Sarny is a slave who's children are sold off just before the end of the Civil War. When she and another slave escape, they head out to find her children. She picks up another abandoned child along the way, and then they are befriended by a woman.The story is realistic and gripping. Paulsen in a wonderful writer, and can even write well from the feminine perspective. This would be a great read for someone studying the Civil War, or who is a fan of Paulsen. It's a bit different from his dog and survival stories.


Sarny is a fictional tale of the life of a slave woman named Sarny. She is born on a plantation and the author chronicles her life from freedom to her death. I feel that I would have loved this book had I read it as a child, because I used to love short historical fiction stories like this one, especially around the civil war. I wasn't very enthusiastic about reading Sarny, but the book turned out to be alright. It is a nice simple book to read, that doesn't bring up any new ideas but makes a nice break from reading more complicated books (no offense to the author, but I'm sure he meant the book to be simple for a young adult audience).I liked the authenticity of the language in the book, which was written from Sarny's perspective. The author must have put a lot of thought into wording her thoughts the way he did. The plot of the book is extremely unlikely to ever happen, but that isn't necessarily a flaw. After all, it's nice to read a book with a happy ending once in a while.


A wonderful partner to Nightjohn, Sarny grows up and has two children. Of course, in the time of slavery and the Civil War, Sarny finds her freedom, only to have to go searching for her newly-lost children. Perhaps it wraps up a little too tidily, but Gary Paulsen tells a good story anyway. And isn't it nice to think that some things do turn out right in the end?I would recommend this to Fifth grade and up. A clear view of how it might have been in that painful part of American history.

BCPL Youth Services Librarian

link to book in 4CLS catalog


A well-written story. Sarny has a strong voice, and the story she tells rings true with a happy enough ending, despite all the hardship she experiences.I would be very interested to read its prequel Nightjohn.


I didn't figure out this was a sequel until I was finished. I think it was ok as a stand alone. It started out stronger at maybe a 4; it offered a different perspective on slavery and the Civil War. Then it became more unrealistic. Just couldn't buy the second half of the book.


second book to Nightjohn excellent book about life after slavery

Kathy Davidson

very interesting. loved to read about the struggles just after the civil war

Thomas Maluck

I was so on board with the first half of this story. I was excited to follow two freed slaves as one of them searches for her still-sold children. Paulsen is great at writing the stories of hardened survivors, and the scenario is just so ripe for his touch. Then, midway through, the freed slaves meet an extravagantly rich white woman who solves all of their problems. The easy answers watered down any conflicts near the end of the book. I wanted Sarny to be more of a fighter and to find inner strength through her own means, not lean on someone else for most of the story.


Gary Paulsen has never let me down. He's one of my favorite authors for a reason!


I think that Sarny was an interesting book. I liked the way she explained her life story.


This is a historical fiction written by a plantation slave during the Civil War. Her children were sold out from under her just before she is freed by Union Soldiers, and the book is about her journey to find them and what happened next.I really liked the way this was written, and enjoyed the plot--which, honestly wasn't very realistic, but was still entertaining. I enjoy this author, and would recommend this book.


The book starts out as the main character explaining her life. Along the way she has two kids that she names, Tyler and Delie. Then one day they get taken because of a bad bet at a poker game. The man that won the poker game, came one day with a wagon and picked up the two children. That’s where the story begins to get interesting. If Sarny, the main character, wasn’t herself, or had different ideas on what there is in life to look forward to, I think that there wouldn’t be a book. Sarny really can teach readers a lot about the good things in life and to stand up for what is right, instead of going with the crowd. If Sarny didn’t meet up with Laura, who is a rich women from down in New Orleans, she probably wouldn’t have found her children as fast as she did. Sarny may have never found them. The book takes place in the south, which is more believable than the north because there isn’t nearly as much slavery as there is in the south in this time period. The setting really plays a large part in making the book more believable.I think that "Sarny" is a good book for anyone who likes to read about history, but in a fictional way. In the book they incorporate a little bit of history along with alot of different ideas and thoughts from the time period of the civil war. It is a very well thought out book with a great theme of, never give up, embedded into it.

Erika Forth

This book was read aloud to my class by a professor and she made some great voices with it. A good book like Nightjohn, but perhaps a bit more satisfying and lengthy.


sarny is a great book that talks about how cruel slavery was back then.I give this book a 5 star rating because its a very good book.The story of sarny talks about her slave owner dying and how she sets of on an adventure to find her kids that were taken from her.she starts her long journey to new Orleans by foot but then meets a nice white women that offers her a free job but not like a slave she would get paid.This is a start of a great friendship between sarny and the white women. not only did the white women offer sarny a job but she also promised sarny to help her find her kids.This book is a really good book to understand how slaves felt back then.I recommend this book to everyone because it has adventure,mystery,and drama.

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