Amy Sturgis's Reviews > The Freedom Maze

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman
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's review
Mar 21, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 21st-century, ya-general, science-fiction-contemporary, fantasy, historical-fiction
Read from February 26 to March 18, 2012

This excellent novel is marketed as a young adult work and stars a teen protagonist, but it's a very worthwhile read for adults, as well, and it certainly deserves the critical and popular attention and accolades that it has received.

Young Sophie Fairchild Martineau finds herself transported from her somewhat helpless and hopeless position as a child of a not-entirely-amicable divorce, discarded with her grandmother and aunt at the shabby remains of the family's ancestral Southern home in 1960, to an even more helpless and hopeless position: back in time one hundred years on the same estate and assumed to be a slave (the fair-skinned child of a slave mother and the younger son of the family matriarch). Her experiences on the 1860 plantation shed light on both the slave community and her white ancestors. In particular, she encounters the plight of mulatto children who were born of white owners and their slave women and subsequently treated as family property rather than family.

The characters and situations are nuanced and compelling, as is the portrayal of the various power relationships and how they affected all concerned. Sophie learns vital lessons about courage, self-determination, and freedom in 1860, and these in turn empower her to take responsibility for her own future in 1960.

This is a thought-provoking, entertaining, and haunting story. Recommended!

Some favorite quotes:

Why didn't any of the books mention that adventures were like taking a test you hadn't studied for?

She'd asked the Creature for an adventure, and adventures had to be full of misunderstandings and hardships, or what was the point?

Maybe people didn't hit their children as hard as they hit their slaves.

Mama stared at her. "How can you talk so ugly to me, after everything I've done for you? Why, I took that horrible job so you could have the life you're used to."
"You like your job," Sophie pointed out. "And I think I might want a different kind of life than the one I'm used to."

Maybe she'd be happy and learn to do for herself. She'd never know unless she tried.

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Reading Progress

22.0% "I'm hooked."
40.0% "This just keeps getting better."
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