Free To Be: A Novel

Free To Be: A Novel

by Gracie L. Chandler


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2015 Florida Book Award Winner, Silver Medal

The Union navy cripples the rebel defenses at Port Royal, South Carolina and panicky plantation owners flee, abandoning their crops, property, and 8,000 slaves. Neither planter nor slave realize November 7, 1861, would mark the end of life as they know it. The army confiscates a bumper crop of contraband Sea Island cotton and hires the slaves-also labeled contraband-to harvest it for the United States Treasury. Sensing a chance at freedom, the Negroes rejoice, recalling that day of awareness as 'The day the big gun shoot'. But Crecie, a field hand and medicine woman, is unable to dispel centuries of brain-washed enslavement--fearing the bold intrusions thrust upon her routine existence.
As the Civil War rages on the mainland, the military, abolitionists, and U.S. Government provide schools, wages, and religious freedom for the islands' contraband. But to the workers' dismay, the new arrivals also bring troubling times, subjecting them to scorn, violence, and death. As a skilled worker, Crecie struggles amid the chaos, longing for the master's return and the plantation's orderly regimen. As she grapples with the abstract concept of freedom, events of the war lead to a personal crisis. If Crecie and her family are to survive, she must make gut-wrenching decisions: learn how to navigate the unjust new labor system or take advantage of once-unimaginable opportunities. Will she choose independence-claiming her own mind, her own labor, her own body? Or will she cling to tradition, fostering her paternalistic beliefs upon her Northern employers, regarding the white power structure as "new masters"? Free to Be is the story of one woman's emotional battle to adjust to an altered life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780996180801
Publisher: Life Everlasting Press
Publication date: 06/07/2015
Pages: 358
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Gracie Lewis Chandler was born on Sapelo-one of Georgia's barrier islands. In the 1980's Chandler learned that Bilali, her seventh-generation grandfather, had written a "book'. Known as The Bilali Muhammad Document, the leather-bound work, written in Arabic, is housed in the University of Georgia's Hargrett Rare Books & Manuscript Library. The discovery of her remarkable ancestor's achievement, while enslaved, inspired Chandler to begin writing her own novel. This venture took 20 years, but in spite of numerous setbacks, she never gave up the dream of becoming an author. After retiring from a lengthy teaching career in Miami, Florida, she concentrated on completing her book. Free to Be, her self-published novel, has been well-received and is the recipient of the Florida Book Awards' 2015 Silver Medal.
Chandler is a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida and has a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with husband, Tommy J. Chandler.

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