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Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave
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Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave

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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  612 ratings  ·  52 reviews
When I was four and my daddy left, I cried, but I understood. He had become part of the Gone.

Oney Judge is a slave. But on the plantation of Mount Vernon, the beautiful home of George and Martha Washington, she is not called a slave. She is referred to as a servant, and a house servant at that -- a position of influence and respect. When she rises to the position of pers...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Simon Pulse (first published 2002)
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Teen Historical Fiction
160th out of 828 books — 2,066 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,050)
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Kayna Olsen
Oney Judge grew up serving the Washington's at Mt. Vernon. As a half black half white servant, Oney is privileged to serve inside the house and eventually is trained to be Martha Washington's personal servant. She is treated very well! All of the Washington's servant are well treated and live a good life. Despite this it seems everywhere Oney goes someone wants her to runaway. This is the true story of a girl struggling with her identity as a servant who is treated like a daughter but is still o...more
Debbie Phillips
Jul 31, 2012 Debbie Phillips rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone with children, especially homeschoolers
This book is excellent. I read it aloud to my son Christopher for school. It gives you a good overview of George Washington and Mt. Vernon as well as the trials of slavery and the problem Washington had with wanting to free them yet having to please both the North and the South to keep the newly founded country together. It also gives you a view of what it was like to be a slave, even to a generous and kind family like the Washington's. This is definitely historical fiction as the characters are...more
Karen Hogan
YA novel about Oney Judge, favored slave of Martha Washington. I enjoyed reading about Mount Vernon, one of my favorite places to visit in Virginia. Reading about George Washington as a slave owner was an eye-opener. So many of our founding fathers, like Washington and Jefferson were hypocrites. They believed in liberty, but not for all. Enjoyed this book. Would read more by this auther: Ann Rinaldi
Kidsbookworm
I read every Ann Rinaldi book I find. I enjoyed this one, but not as much as some of her others; that being said, it's still a 4 star read. Rinaldi did a great job fleshing out Oney Judge, a personal slave/servant to Martha Washington. It will be interesting to see if my sensitive child will enjoy this book enough to finish it -
Peggy
Ann Rinaldi has turned out to be one of my favorite authors. She takes a specific time in history and develops a story from that time that is based on historical research. Her approach is to revolve the story around someone who would be considered a minor character in that time period, thus giving us a different perspective on that historical period. This particular book is the story of Oney Judge, a slave of George Washington's, who was given great privileges and status in Washington's house. S...more
Molly
I thought Taking Liberty was a simple, informative historical non-fiction book. The book was slower than most books I've read, but it was still ok. This book made me think twice about my freedom and privileges.
Ariana
I enjoyed reading Taking Liberty. Even though it was partially fiction, I still found it really interesting and learned quite a bit. It was written very well and it was very descriptive.
Connor M
This book took me by surpirse in the sense that it wasn't too "textbook-like". Instead it detailed the important parts of her life giving what she did justice. Definetly a goodread!
Rachel
I found this in The Valley of the Forge visitor center and picked it up since I do like reading YA books. I also wanted a glimpse of life in Revolutionary Times, so this is a good glimpse of it. Other than a more simplistic style of writing, I did find this to be a good read. It is interesting to read of Oney Judge. I am slightly disappointed because it really didn't cover the deeper questions I had about slavery and it was not very detailed like other YA books. However, if one was starting out...more
Donavon Johnson
This was a great and interesting book and I recommend it to all.
Tiffany Smith
This is a story of historical events that are set on the plantation of George Washington. Through the eyes of a house slave, the reader sees slavery in a different light. The reader see slavery through the eyes of a servant that is presumably treated like "family". Oney asks, "Why would I want to be free?" As the personal maid to Lady Washington, she is given pretty dresses, eats food from the kitchen and is given a room in the house with a fireplace. Yet, Oney comes to understand that she is pr...more
Audrey (The Reader in the Corner)
I absolutely ADORED this book. Ann Rinaldi is a phenomenal young adult historical fiction writer. There was so much detail and description that just completely draws you into this story. I felt like I could relate a lot to the main character Oney. I was actually surprised by the way the book ended. I will definitely by reading this again at some point.
Becky M
This was a quick, easy book. Love historical fiction and interesting to read about how life might have been like as the President's slave.
Jill
I loved this book. I loved the perspective. I hope I get to meet this woman in heaven. A wonderful story of dedication to what she believes in - first, the people she grew to consider her family, and second, to her own self-worth. I'm guessing that she and George and Martha Washington are good friends now; they have so much in common - from the time spent in the same household for so many years, as well as intellectually and in so many shared character traits.
Becky
I really enjoyed this book about a favored slave growing up in George Washington's household. She grows up gradually realizing the importance of freedom, learning first from her own mother. It also confirms my high opinion of Pres. Washington. The way a man treats those closest to him reveals his real character. The yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia was especially interesting to me.
My favorite of Ann Rinaldi's book so far.
Melissa
aking Liberty is the story of Oney Judge, one of George Washington’s real slaves, and how she took the freedom that was rightfully hers. Between luxury and comfort that no other slave had, Oney was satisfied with her life. Yet when her mother urges her to take liberty and never again return to Mount Vernon, Oney starts to think. With the help of a freed woman, Oney makes plans to run-before it’s too late.
Lori
Interesting to learn more about the life of 'priveleged' servant, Oney Judge, to Martha Washington. Even through good times, life as a slave was always changing and the future didn't always hold the same promise.

I still enjoy the bibliographies Rinaldi provides as well as the breakdown of 'proven' details and the breakdown of which characters and details she fabricated to facilitate the story.
jacky
Sep 03, 2009 jacky rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya, 2009
This one was okay. I felt like the first half of the book was slow. The conflict didn't seem to build. I also didn't connect with the character or find her situation that unique, unlike some of the other books I've read by Rinaldi. If you were really interested in the Washingtons, though, this would be a great selection.
Marla
Of all of Anne Rinaldi's books that I've read so far, this one is my favorite. It's about a slave girl owned by George Washington. She's very loyal to the Washington's and can't imagine why she'd ever want to leave them. The story is about how she learns why freedom is so valuable. Very inspirational.
Sean
When I started this book, I thought the black characters would be stereotyped because of the way their dialogue was written. While there was some of that, I felt so much for the main character, and I hated and loved the Washingtons at the same time. This was good historical fiction.
Beth
So in 2008 after I saw the John Adams series on HBO, I was in a Revolutionary war kick. And this book is about one of the slaves that Washington owned! How intesting, right? Well, Ann Rinaldi did a paint-by-numbers job writing it, and it was a chore to read.
Danielle
i thought this was a great book. i don't know much about that time period, and it was so interesting to see it from this point of view. the last thing i think about when i think about george washington are his slaves. loved it!
Michelle
I have loved Ann Rinaldi for years, ever since I taught 7th grade Language Arts way back in the 80s and early 90s. She can bring history to life for young readers (and not so young). Her characters are engaging and real.
Brittany Gilliam
Taking Liberty is an amazing story about Oney Judge a slave treated like a daughter. Based on a true story it shows how a bond was formed between servant and master, and when trouble arises, those bonds can be hard to brake.
Emily V.
Nov 20, 2007 Emily V. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is a really good book it is about George Washingtons runaway slave. she is trying to save up enough money to run away, but she really doesnt want to, but her mom want her to so she can have a better life.
Jennifer
I just finished this young adult/ historical fiction book and loved it! Ann Rinaldi does an amazing job of bringing history to life and this beautiful story will now become a "must read" for my students.
Merritt
Very good. Battling between old love and new, duty and heritage, and so many other things. Ann Rinaldi really creates dialect and character in her writings, and it's so interesting while being informative.
Cami
Aug 09, 2008 Cami is currently reading it
A little slow to read because of the southern, African American language but it certainly puts you in the story. I'm glad to be reading it and to understand one woman's perspective of being a slave.
Hannah
Finally read this one. Grew up loving Ann Rinaldi's books. Can't wait to re-read my favorites now that I've cataloged where I stashed them, but first to work some more on my to read shelf... ;)
Sandy Brehl
A detailed and highly readable version of a an actual slave of the Washingtons. Pair with jefferson's Sons for insights to the strangely imbalanced view of slaves by our founding fathers.
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Ann Rinaldi (b. August 27, 1934, in New York City) is a young adult fiction author. She is best known for her historical fiction, including In My Father's House, The Last Silk Dress, An Acquaintance with Darkness, A Break with Charity, and Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons. She has written a total of forty novels, eight of which were listed as notable by the ALA. In 2000, Wolf by the Ears was lis...more
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