Monday, October 22, 2012
Come August, Come Freedom
Candlewick Press, 2012
Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
While selecting books to read, I was intrigued to see that this was historical fiction set in 1800 and focusing on a slave revolt in Virginia, drawing inspiration from authentic primary sources to tell a moving story.
As I said, I loved the synopsis for this book and thought it was right up my alley as a student of American history. This wasn't my time period and I had never heard of this particular planned slave rebellion inspired by the Haitian revolution. Unfortunately I had a lot of trouble with the writing style. I can't quite put my finger on why as I didn't think it was opaque or too challenging. It just didn't click with me and made it a struggle to read this (really not long) book.
I mean, I liked the main character, Gabriel. Gabriel has had an unusual background, receiving reading and writing instruction from the mistress of the house alongside her son as the two are approximately the same age. He also played with the boy until the difference in their situations was brutally emphasized. But he went on to become an excellent blacksmith and to earn money for himself. His love for his girl Nanny and his education help him to plan and lead other slaves in a fight for freedom. While the other characters weren't as well-developed, they were still interesting to read about.
Overall: I loved the focus on a different kind of time period and excellent historical sources even if I didn't fall in love with it.
Cover: It's definitely not my usual kind of cover but I think that's why I like it. Plus the title is so perfect for everything that comes about in the novel.
Quote from author (so excellent I have to share it): "I love learning about people who lived during the Early Republic era. Gabriel's story illustrates how one individual's pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness can intersect with a nation's pursuit of a more perfect union. Gabriel went all in for freedom. To me, he is one of America's greatest patriots." (source-back cover of ARC I received).