Title: Come to the Oaks: The Story of Ben and Tobias
Author: Bryan T. Clark
Length: 267 Pages
At a Glance: As the author stated this novel is not meant to depict actual events of slavery, but it does reflect the times and gives a better understanding of slavery in America. I believe the author met his goals.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: In 1845, as America is drowning in its own racial conflict, in a time when forbidden love has to remain a secret, can two young men find love when one has everything to lose, and the other has nothing?
For Tobias, a young African man, life has ended before it began. Snatched abruptly from his homeland and enslaved into the Antebellum South, grand homes and majestic oak trees meant little to him. Now he is considered the property of other men, but his spirit would not be broken.
The awkward Benjamin Nathanael Lee lives a privileged life. His father owns the largest tobacco plantation south of the Mason Dixon line. Ben wants little to do with the harsh realities of running a plantation—that is, until he meets Tobias, the one person that changes everything for him.
Wealth, greed, and power brought them together. The same now threatens to separate them forever. The two men are on the verge of losing the one thing that matters: their love for one another. Against the odds, they steal off and embark on a journey to find freedom: the freedom to love one another and to live a life without the chains of slavery.
Come to the Oaks is the tale of a forbidden romance—a love forged by two young men as they journey through a land that is tearing itself apart.
Review: Mamadou Masamba, at the age of 19, has been forced to leave his homeland of Africa. He is the son of a West African healer, Babatunde Masamba—but his homeland and family are now just memories, as he’s shipped to America and sold into slavery.
In the year 1845 slaves are finding their freedom, but certain places did not conform and they continued the illegal act of transporting and selling slaves. Ben Lee is heading to Myrtleville, Kentucky with his father, Master Emmett Lee. They’re going to the auction to buy strong and healthy slaves to work his father’s plantation. One day Oak Grove plantation will belong to Ben, but he has no desire for the farm. Ben is shocked at the awful conditions that the slaves are kept in, and he becomes interested in Mamadou, who is not well. He talks his father into letting him buy Mamadou as his own slave.
Ben is protective of Mamadou and makes sure Mamadou is under his watch, giving the slave a new name, Tobias. As these two young men work, talk and become familiar with each other, a bond starts to form between them, until it becomes so much more, but it’s a danger to them both. Ben comes up with plan so he and Tobias can be free and start their new life together without intolerance and racial prejudice.
Bryan T. Clark creates a vivid picture of what life was like for slaves in 1845. This novel brings a mixture of emotions with its realism—rape, beatings, horrible living conditions and the inhuman treatment of slaves during a time when they should have been free. Ben and Tobias’s own actions caused tension to build, never knowing if they would be caught and what the consequences would be. I liked the contrast between Ben and Tobias, and I felt it really made the chemistry between them stronger. I had sort of mixed feelings, as it was sad that Tobias was taken from his family, but then there was hope for something good to happen when he meets Ben.
As the author stated this novel is not meant to depict actual events of slavery, but it does reflect the times and gives a better understanding of slavery in America. I believe the author met his goals. I was totally fascinated with this novel and hope to see more from him.
You can buy Come to the Oaks here: