Saturday, October 14, 2023

Review for Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge


I thought this felt like a YA book in the early pages with the young Libertie learning about her situation, unique for that time period in US history, as a freeborn negro. Her mother was respected as a doctor, healer, and a landowner. All that turned into teenage angst when the mother’s expectations for a daughter clashed with Libertie’s feelings of inadequacy and her desire to choose a different path. It later turned into anger as she got older and more rebellious. It lasted pretty much for the rest of the book with little change until the very end when she was about to give birth to twins and had found aid in escaping her marriage to a husband who couldn’t keep his promise of equality for his wife.

I didn’t have a grasp of location until much later in the book when it was finally mentioned they lived south of the East River in Brooklyn. I didn’t know of any historical black community in that area. I guess creating the small-town feel was more important. I found out about Weeksville before reading the end notes. I was impressed at how the author used historical facts for the book. The 1863 Draft riot that turned into a race riot was very poignant and developed more than I’d been exposed to in other books and movies.

I’m a bit concerned that it may have not totally benefited the character development of the protagonist. She came off as stubbornly whiney. More willing to run from her problems than confront them. Not first-class, story-grade heroine behavior. However, the end notes say that’s what the author was after, a kind of everywoman.

The writing style was better than average with plenty of insightful passages, but I had problems in following dialog on several occasions and had to reread a few long complex sentences to find their intended meaning. All cases of falling out of the narrative.

I liked the inclusion of letters for plot development and appreciated that they were readable (in a different font?).

The ending left me wondering if it is a setup for another book that will continue Libertie’s story.