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Which Way Freedom?

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    really good story

    In July of 1861 Obi is a sixteen or seventeen-year-old slave on the South Carolina farm of John and Martha Jennings. It's a small farm, and there are only two other slaves, a thirteen-or-so-year-old girl named Easter and a seven-year-old boy named Jason. However, the overseer, Jennings's brother Wilson, is a hard taskmaster. Obi has never forgotten the sounds of his mother's screams on the day he was sold away from her. Making plans to run away to find her back on one of Carolina islands where she lived was a secret game he played with his friend Buka, an old free black who lives at the edge of the farm. Yet, after the Civil War begins, the Jenningses plan to sell their slaves and return to their home state so Obi knows that it is time to run, planning to take Easter and Jason with him.
    However, things don't go according to plan, and due to extenuating circumstances Obi and Easter escape with Buka, but they have to leave Jason behind. They make it to a Confederate camp near the shore where they are captured. Buka dies there. Then when Obi and another slave named Daniel make plans to cross over to the Union camp on the island, Easter is determined to stay behind so that she can return for Jason. After reaching the Union camp, Daniel begins to spy for the Federal Army but is killed, so Obi joins up and in 1864 is transferred with his new friend Thomas West, a free Northern Black, to Fort Pillow, TN. If you remember your history, Ft. Pillow is where Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest allowed his troops to massacre everyone they could because the fort was being held primarily by African-American troops. I'll tell you that Obi survives, but will Thomas make it?
    We did this book as a family read aloud, and everyone thought that it was a really good story. I found it at some museum or historical site gift shop. Based on real events, it reveals little known details about the lives of runaway slaves and their part in the Civil War. The author wrote, "All of the characters in Which Way Freedom? are fictional. However, the massacre at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, was an actual event." We felt that the ending left us hanging but later learned that Which Way Freedom?, one of four books by Hansen that have received Coretta Scott King Honors, is the first book in the Obi and Easter trilogy. So far as language is concerned, the euphemistic "Lawd" is used as an interjection. Joyce Hansen, who is said to be the "Newbery Honor author of I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly," is a distinguished author of many books for children, both fiction and nonfiction, who specializes in African American History. The next book in the saga of Obi and Easter is Out from This Place.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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