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Unbound: A Novel in Verse
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Unbound: A Novel in Verse

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,103 ratings  ·  518 reviews
From the award-winning author of All the Broken Pieces and Serafina's Promise comes a new novel-in-verse that is a gripping, transcendent story about a little-known piece of slave history.

The day Grace is called from the slave cabins to work in the Big House, Mama makes her promise to keep her eyes down. Uncle Jim warns her to keep her thoughts tucked private in her mind
Hardcover, 347 pages
Published September 26th 2016 by Scholastic Press
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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,103 ratings  ·  518 reviews

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Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unbound: A Novel in Verse depicts the life of a 9 year old girl, born into slavery. In this fictional novel, the reader follows Grace and her family through trials and tribulations they must endure on the road to freedom.

A quick read book that I would recommend to anyone. A very captivating story from beginning to end.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'll start by saying this book was amazing! My daughter made me read it. It's juvenile fiction, but what an amazing story about a family who would risk everything to escape slavery. It's a novel written in verse so it's a fairly quick read. I was in all the way until the end and didn't want to put it down.

The only problem I had was wanting to know what happened to some of the characters at the end of the story. You're left to wonder just like Gracie.

I would recommend this book to anyone!

5 ***
Claude's Bookzone
CW: Depicts life as slaves

3,5 Stars

Well this middle-school verse novel was a wonderful testament to the the strength of people escaping the injustices and horrors of slavery.

Nine year old Grace is a beautifully drawn character and was the perfect narrator for this story. This could be used in classes as a launching point for studies on the abhorrent practice of slavery and then ownvoice accounts could be incorporated in this study to ensure authenticity, and that the right perspectives are heard
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5 STARS!!!

This was such a beautiful and heartbreaking read. Grace is such a strong and heroic character and I loved reading from her POV in verse. I'm not sure what year this takes place in but know it's about slavery and in some parts of the country it's been abolished but in Virginia, where this story takes place it hasn't been taken care of yet, which is the reason Grace and her family are considered runaway slaves and are trying to get to freedom, wherever that may be. In short, if you're lo
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
While this is a good reading level for middle school, and an important part of American history to discuss and not forget, it bugs me that this story isn't an #ownvoices novel. I believe the author has good intentions with Grace's story; however, it bothers me that a white woman is profiting from the sordid history of slavery in America. With that said, while there were good discussion points in the novel, I did not feel that this story was *exceptional*. I hope that educators who read the book ...more
I want to read this to my fourth-grade class. No, I need to read it to them. They need to hear Grace's story, and - living in Virginia - they need to have a heartfelt connection to the Great Dismal Swamp. Ann Burg has accomplished a great work in capturing words to describe hope in the face of the horror of slavery, all in a manner appropriate for middle-grade readers. Hope embodied by the courage and sacrifice of others. Stunning. ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read Unbound in one night. It's an easy read, thanks to the verse and colloquial writing style that feels natural to southerners. But just because it's simply written, doesn't mean it doesn't have punching power.

Unbound is a beautiful, spiritual story of young, light-skinned Grace (a house slave) who digs herself (and her entire family) into a horrible situation when she speaks up for what's right. Grace & her family must escape into the Great Dismal Swamp to avoid the worst kind of retaliati
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2019
I highly recommend (and prefer) the audiobook of this middle grade novel written in verse.
"My favorite word is FREEDOM."

A plucky, determined and resilient protagonist make this an enjoyable read on a forgotten piece of American history.
Young Grace has only known one world. Those who are slaves and those who are not. She and her family work in the Big House with an awful Master and even worse Missus. After a terrible event, she and her family must flee to safety and freedom. Although the journey is grueling, difficult and dangerous, Grace believes that the risks are worth taking. I applaud the author for her direct dialog and sincere empathy and how she does not shy away from the honest brutality of slavery. I listened to the a ...more
Ashley  Van Horn
Aug 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
I have an issue with voices written by non own voices authors. It felt predictable and over told.
Mar 27, 2017 added it
I really liked reading Unbound because its one of the best novel in verse I've read. I like how the author put in detail in the little things. I would recommend this book to people who like novel in verse ...more
Aryana Parmar
Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-caudills
3.5 stars really... it was a good book but it wasn't the best of the caudills for sure. Anyways, read it if you like books in verse... uh, yeah. ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved, loved, loved Unbound because of the unique choice of writing the novel in verse. While the story was a quick read, it felt unified in a way that made you want to read more. However, the end was a bit of a cliffhanger. I wish the author wrapped up the story more. Overall, the story was one of my favorites I have read so far.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Outstanding novel in verse about Grace, a slave girl who, with her family, escape to the interior of the Great Dismal Swamp rather than be sent to the auction block. Characters who speak in the language and accents of the times, combined with details of period life, lend authenticity to the tale. Not long ago I saw on a segment of "Mysteries at the Museum" that an anthropologist looking for traces of the escaped slave and Native American settlements in the swamp finally found the outlines of cab ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a tribute to freedom and the ingenious ways folks found to help each other escape the tyranny of slavery. Hearing the novel in Grace's voice was a powerful experience. I heartily recommend the audio version. The word pictures painted by the author will not soon be forgotten. Would be a perfect classroom read-aloud for 4th grade and up, especially when studying the mid 19th century in history. ...more
Tara Warmerdam
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, important story. I will write a full review in a few days. For now, I want to dwell in the lovely language and the powerful ending to this story while I think about my review. I am already returning to reread my favorite passages....
Nancy Kotkin
Novel-in-verse about slavery. At nine years old, Grace is no longer a child. As the story opens, Grace is just about to become a house slave for the Master who owns her mother and stepfather. She is rightly terrified and, as it turns out, not very good at practicing submissiveness or blindly following directions. As a result, the tobacco plantation owners decide to sell off Grace's mother and both the stepbrothers Grace has been helping to raise. But Grace and her family would rather live in the ...more
May 25, 2022 rated it liked it
“I wonder how it feels like
to be a tiny fish
what flitters n darts
so free.

I wonder how it feels
to be the cool, clear water
what runs
without bein chased.”.

Unbound is a pre-civil war story with fictional characters based on true life stories of enslaved people, who found a way to escape the hellish life under white authority. Well it is a story in verse, the whole book is like a poetry book which took me a while to get used to. I could not get into the story at first, I am not really accustomed to t
3.5 stars. Bahni Turpin is an excellent narrator (she also reads The True Meaning of Smekday, which is hilarious) and this book really demonstrated the range of voices she can do. I had to take several breaks from this one because the subject matter is pretty heavy, but I did enjoy it. I'm debating using this one for Pageturners next year, since kids generally like the novel-in-verse format due to it being faster to read. We will see! ...more
Angela Kidd Shinozaki
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I feel fortunate that I discovered and was able to read two novels in verse in a row. This one had quite a unique story to tell. It's not just about slavery or escaping or freedom. These slaves escape to the swamps where they make a new life. It's based on true accounts. The author employs dialect to tell this story, which can slow the reading down a tad, but makes the story feel more authentic. And truly, this is a fast-paced, read-it-to-the-end kind of story anyway. It never slows down. You ca ...more
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Grace is pulled from the slave cabins to work in the Big House. Despite warnings from her mother and Uncle Jim and others to just "keep her eyes down and her mouth shut" Grace can't tamp down on her "rightiness voice". Grace and her family flee slavery into the deep swamps in search of Freedom. This verse-style story is meant for middle-grade readers but could be enjoyed by adults as well. The plot of Grace and her family as slaves and then working to escape to the Great Dismal Swamp is a nice d ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This free verse novel follows the story of Grace as she is torn from her mother and brothers and sent to work in the Big House, due to her light skin. Grace and her family are slaves on a plantation near the Great Dismal Swamp. Only nine years old, Grace promises her mother that she will keep her eyes down and her thoughts to herself, but she sees new things every day that cause her to question why things are the way they are. The injustice of it all becomes too much for her, threatening her ent ...more
Andrew Blok
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is great. You should read it. It won't take long. Do it!

A novel in verse from the perspective of Grace, a young, slave in antebellum North Carolina (most likely), Unbound tells a story of oppression with a newer focus. Instead of focusing solely on the physical horrors of slavery, Grace's story, which certainly deals with the physical, focuses on Grace's conception of her personhood.

Grace is told, when she goes to work in the Big House, that she must "learn her place" as one without a
Kristi Bell
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A novel in verse about a child, Grace, born into slavery. She is old enough to move to the Big House to assist the others in the kitchen. She worries about her mama and brothers she has left behind in the slave quarters.

Beautifully written book that is suspenseful and educates the middle school reader about slavery.

Language: None
Sex: None
Violence: Talks about beatings but never describes them in detail.
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was a perfect book to introduce middle school and upper elementary students to slavery from the perspective of someone their own age. It was written in simple, yet expressive language that demonstrated just how hard it was to be a slave, to keep your head down when people were constantly belittling and mistreating you simply because your skin happened to be a different color.
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the best books that I have every read. I first read it because my friend recommended it to me. I didn't think much of it and gave it a try. I read the first few pages and immediately fell in love. This book had emotion and adventure tied together to make one AWESOME book. I would recommend this book to anyone. ...more
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss
This story about freedom and family will stay with me for a while. It was particularly meaningful because the Great Dismal Swamp is not too far away from me, and I had not previously given any thought about its importance in the past.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I couldn’t help comparing this book to Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, and while this middle grade novel in verse obviously doesn’t contain the same level of sadistic cruelty, Unbound captures the unfairness, desperation, endurance, and hope of a runaway slave’s journey in the early 1860s. I can’t believe I didn’t know that many slaves who successfully escaped plantations made new settlements deep in inhospitable swamps rather than attempting the dangerous path north.

While Unbound is very
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was a good book n I think ya'll should read it.
(They speak in an accent.)
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