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The Freedom Maze

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3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  653 Ratings  ·  181 Reviews
In 1960, thirteen-year-old Sophie slips through a maze into 19th century Louisiana and finds nothing is as she expected.
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Big Mouth House (first published January 1st 2011)
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Catie
Mar 13, 2013 Catie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Catie by: Flannery
According to an interview with Delia Sherman at the end of this audiobook, it took eighteen years, twenty-seven drafts, countless hours of research, and a whole bunch of informed beta readers to complete this book – and it shows. If you’re looking for historical fiction that’s been thoroughly researched and very well done, this is an excellent choice. And the best part is that this was written for children.

I know that I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating: children deserve great
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TheBookSmugglers
Originally posted on The Book Smugglers

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I realised The Freedom Maze was something special. I felt its impact from the very start: I had barely started it and already had problems falling asleep because I kept thinking about what was happening to the protagonist and where the story might go. This is a book that works on every single level I can think of: from a storytelling point of view, as a coming of age tale, as a Speculative Fiction story, as a Hist
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Tamora Pierce
Nov 30, 2011 Tamora Pierce rated it it was amazing
In 1960 Sophie's wish unexpectedly results in her trip back in time to her family's plantation in 1860. Tanned dark by the summer sun, Sophie is mistaken for one of her family's mixed-blood children and put to work as a slave, first in the moderately gentler "Big House," then as a more harshly used kitchen and field hand. This is a riveting, edge-of-the-seat story to read. Sophie finds even the supposedly easier life of waiting on the old mistress far harder than she is used to, with random blow ...more
Sherwood Smith
Verisimilitude—authenticity—authority. Plausibility and credibility. Truth.

So much is written about the books in whose fictions we find truth so strongly that we willingly not only suspend belief, but tuck the fiction away among our own life memories.

So much has been written on how and why it happens, and here I go, adding to the flow. What makes a book real? Injecting realism is the first answer, but that wasn’t satisfactory for all. Back in 1750, Samuel Johnson ranted about how it wasn’t usefu
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Elizabeth

It’s 1960, and 13-year-old Sophie is doomed to a boring summer with her aunt and ill grandmother on the decaying remains of what was, 100 years ago, a bustling Louisiana sugar plantation. Through the strange machinations of a Brer Rabbit-type “Creature” (with clear parallels to the Natterjack of Edward Eager’s The Time Garden , Sophie’s preferred reading material), Sophie is plunged back in time to the plantation’s heyday. She’s a direct descendant of the plantation owners and is recognized as
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April Steenburgh
Jan 28, 2012 April Steenburgh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
Sophie is a young girl who can do nothing to fill the shoes her mother has set out for her. Not that the shoes are a particularly good fit, but Sophie bows her head and takes her mother's sharp comments in silence. When her mother has to move for schooling and work, Sophie spends a summer with her aunt and grandmother on what is left of the familial plantation in Louisiana. There she meets a mysterious, magical entity that sends her back in time. But Sophie quickly learns that adventure isn't as ...more
Jodi
Apr 20, 2012 Jodi rated it really liked it
First of all, I love the cover of this YA book! Which is of course is why I picked it up in the first place. No teens in fancy ball gowns looking much older then their years, thankyouverymuch!
The setting was delightful. How perfect to have a girl of the 1960s travel to the antebellum era and learn a thing or too about how it feels to be treated like less than a person because of the color of your skin. At first blush, it might seem just like another time traveling fantasy a la Edward Eager but t
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Hylary Locsin
Apr 04, 2012 Hylary Locsin rated it really liked it
Originally posted on my blog: http://libraryladyhylary.blogspot.com ! Check it out for more reviews!

In 1960 New Orleans, thirteen-year-old Sophie Martineau is struggling to cope with her parents’ recent divorce. Her father has moved to New York City, and her former best friend is no longer allowed to socialize with the child of a single mother. To make matters worse, Sophie’s mother has decided to send her to Oak Cottage, an old plantation outside of New Orleans, to stay with her grandmother and
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Rick O'Connor
Jun 16, 2016 Rick O'Connor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This is a thought-provoking book for middle school students (Grades 5-8). It touches on many different topics that would engage a class into deep discussion and reflection, such as divorce, slavery, human rights, time-travel, self-reflection, etc. The main character Sophie faces all of these topics in some form through the book and I think many students would relate directly to her encounters.

In summary, Sophie ends up at her grandmother's house for the summer, and she is feeling less than good
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Francesca Forrest
Apr 07, 2012 Francesca Forrest rated it it was amazing
This is a marvelous book that I highly recommend. In terms of format/genre, it's a fantasy story involving travel back in time (a type of story I adored as a kid), but it's much more than that. In 1960, thirteen-year-old Sophie has to go stay with her grandmother and aunt on the property that was once her ancestors' Louisiana plantation. She wishes to go back in time and have an adventure, and so she does--though not the one she expects to have: appearing in the past, she's assumed to be a slave ...more
Alexander
Aug 02, 2015 Alexander rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
One of the biggest strengths of this book is how it makes the small seem large. Because if you look at the plot - a girl gets transported 100 years to the past - you'd expect her to go through some incredibly important historical event; maybe she'd help out Abraham Lincoln, maybe she'd play an important part in the war. Heck, I've more or less written a similar plot and I did just that.
This book, though, doesn't do that at all. And I didn't mind it the least. The only reason why Sophie gets tran
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Aaron
An exciting, nuanced and thoughtful work. I loved it. Three things that bothered me, though:

1) After returning to 1960, why did Sophie never bother to look inside the hiding place under the summerhouse to see if there was anything still there?

2) At times the book comes too close to suggesting that Sophie's restrictive upbringing is comparable to slavery.

3) Sophie's mother is a completely unsympathetic character (so is her father, but he never appears on-camera). The author provides some hints
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Martin
Dec 21, 2016 Martin rated it it was amazing
An excellent young adult novel, exceedingly well-written and researched. As a ‘through the looking glass’ experience, I found it so much more satisfying emotionally and intellectually than Colson Whitehead’s “Underground Railroad” which has been so popular this year. The book abounded with detail about slave life, barely watered down from the phenomenal non-fiction “The Half Has Never Been Told” by Edward E. Baptist. There are frequent references to calamities such as a master whipping a capture ...more
Heidi
4.5 Stars

The Freedom Maze is one of those beautifully crafted, almost underhanded coming of age stories where it’s impossible to observe the changes in one you see every day, until suddenly you’re faced with the contrast of who they once were. Sophie is a girl reaching most tentatively that border between being a child and being a young woman. Being pushed most forcibly toward the latter by her quite proper mother, Sophie feels stifled in her own skin (and especially the stockings, not to mentio
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Wendy
Mar 11, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Suzy
Shelves: time-travel
I really enjoyed this, and had not expected to. I didn't find the problems with a "white savior" complex that some of my literary acquaintances have. Every objection I try to bring up to myself... like, that the other slaves accepted Sophie and were awfully good to her for no real reason, when for most of the book she brings them nothing but trouble... I can find an immediate counterexample for, like all the scorn she is treated with for having no useful skills and getting special treatment beca ...more
Miranda the Gayvenger
At some point during The Freedom Maze, I became so engrossed in the story that I didn't even want to pause to write down notes for a review later. Unfortunately this means that my review is probably going to be a little all over the place, but oh well.

This is the third novel I've read about someone being sent back in time to the mid 19th century and being forced to be a part of the slave plantations. The first, of course, being Kindred, and the second being Zetta Elliott's A Wish After Midnight.
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Carly Thompson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steph Su
Jul 13, 2012 Steph Su rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book
THE FREEDOM MAZE is an odd and intriguing book, blending two historical periods with mystical elements. At its core, though, this is a traditional coming-of-age story—which actually makes it hard for me to decide how I feel about this book.

In middle school, I read a book called The Devil s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, which tells the story of a modern girl who gets thrown back in time to WWII Europe. THE FREEDOM MAZE follows the same storypath. It is clear that Sherman has meticulously done her res
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Barbara Gordon
Sep 07, 2012 Barbara Gordon rated it liked it
Shelves: bookish-child-mc
"In 1960, thirteen-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about spending summer at her grandmother’s old house in the Bayou. But the house has a maze Sophie can’t resist exploring once she finds it has a secretive and playful inhabitant.
When Sophie, bored and lonely, makes an impulsive wish inspired by her reading, hoping for a fantasy adventure of her own, she slips one hundred years into the past, to the year 1860. On her arrival she makes her way, bedraggled and tanned, to what will one day be her grand
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Karen
The 5th star is for the 2013-Audie-nominated audio production; the voice of Robin Miles swept me through time - first to 1960 and then to 1860 in this perfect-for-middle-school historical fantasy about a 13 year-old girl who meets a trickster creature, makes a wish for adventure, and finds herself 100 years in the past, enslaved on her family's sugar plantation in the Louisiana Bayou.

(Never tell your wishes to tricksters - especially those you meet in a hidden garden in the center of a haunted m
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Minli
Dec 29, 2011 Minli rated it really liked it
Time-travel fantasy in which an 'aristocratic' white girl from the 1960s finds herself in the antebellum south. She travels in time, but not in space--so her tanned skin and rustic ways get her mistaken as a slave at the same house where she was visiting her grandmother.

Any book addressing or including slavery has the potential to be problematic. But while Sherman writes with honesty and sensitivity, she is not interested in the sweeping political ramifications--she's narrows her focus just on
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Nina
Jan 14, 2012 Nina rated it did not like it
Shelves: children
Technically well-written, but with ultimately underlying flaws in the perspective that make this unrecommendable for me. I am never convinced that the main character is doing anything but "playing" at being a slave, and even as it gets more serious, the ending confirms this. She sure feels lucky not to be "mistaken" for a slave any longer, but she'll claim to walk in her ancestor's shoes.

Also note the plentitude of blurbs...and then check acknowledgements to see how many are in her writing grou
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Skip
Oct 20, 2013 Skip rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
2.5 stars. In 1960, Sophie Fairchild Martineau is dumped by her mother at her childhood home in Louisiana, Oak Cottage, with her Aunt and Grandmother. Sophie vents her resentment by clearing an overgrown maze, part of the original plantation. After wishing impulsively for an adventure, she is transported back to 1860, where Sophie is mistaken for a bastard child slave by her ancestors. She learns first hand about inequities and has an important role to play before she can return to her time. Slo ...more
Karen Ireland-Phillips
I had some trouble with this book, and will be re-reading it to see if my first impression may have been unfair. It seemed to me to be a blatant morality tale. Did the talented Ms. Sherman mean to leave the impression that the solution to the poor behavoir of a bored and spoiled bi-racial teenage girl is to transport her to antebellum South and teach her, graphically, about the evils of slavery, so that she'd return and be a better person.
Emily
Nov 15, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book, and appreciated Sherman's effort (mentioned in the acknowledgements) to convey the history of slavery respectfully. My only complaint is that the merging of past and present in the protagonist's memory/reality feels rather haphazard and underdeveloped.
April Henry
Jan 27, 2013 April Henry rated it it was amazing
Thought provoking and well-researched. It's kind of a double time-travel story, because even the "current" portion of the story is set in 1960.
E.C.
Nov 29, 2011 E.C. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg
I feel like this book has always been around, perhaps a forgotten favorite from my childhood.
Shawn Mooney
Dec 08, 2016 Shawn Mooney rated it it was ok
Bailed at the 30% mark - the time travel back to the days of slavery part of the story, which was going to take up the rest of the novel, rubbed me the wrong way. I felt it was sugar-coated and ineptly done. This year I've read two stunning novels about slavery: Octavia Butler's Kindred, and Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing. I have no desire to suffer through a bad one.
Mieneke
As I had heard and read a lot of praise for Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze , I was excited to receive a review copy for the UK edition. And I was in no way disappointed by the story. The Freedom Maze was every bit as magical as I’d expected. This novel packs a lot in a slim package and I hope I can do it justice.

Before talking about the obvious themes of the book and the historical settings, I want to examine its speculative elements. The Freedom Maze is a time travel story, but one powered b
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Wendy Bousfield
Jul 20, 2013 Wendy Bousfield rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult

Freedom Maze won the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy (2011). There is a lot to like here, and I wish I had been able to warm up to the novel more. Since it is a story of time travel, I wanted it (maybe unfairly) to be more fantastic or magical: the protagonist is not even slightly disoriented when she moves backwards in time. I was annoyed by improbabilities of plot and by the fact that some (not all) characters were utterly cardboard stereotypes.

In 1960, Sophie’s Southern
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Spoiler--the outcome and discovery 1 2 May 29, 2016 01:05PM  
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Delia Sherman (born 1951) is a fantasy writer and editor. Her novel The Porcelain Dove won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.

She was born in Tokyo and brought up in New York City. She earned a PhD in Renaissance studies at Brown University and taught at Boston and North-eastern universities. She is the author of the novels Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove (a Mythopoeic Award winner), and Ch
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