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A Kind of Freedom

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  4,534 ratings  ·  621 reviews
"A brilliant mosaic of an African American family and a love song to New Orleans...written with deep insight and devastating honesty but also with grace and beauty." —Dana Johnson, author of Elsewhere, California

Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War II. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society, and when she falls
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Counterpoint
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Diane S ☔
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eleanor and her sister Ruby are sisters living in New Orleans. As Creoles they have a higher standard of living then many, their father a respected doctor, and as such they escape much of the racism inherent in the South. When Eleanor falls for a man, who has nothing, a man not her social equal, her standard of living drops drastically. Like her mother she too will have two daughters, and her daughter Jackie will fall in love with a man trying to fight a drug addiction, and their son will spend ...more
“They were the children of once-upon-a-time slaves, born into a kind of freedom, but they had traveled down through the wombs with what all their kind had been born with — the knowledge that God had promised next week to everyone but themselves.” – Edward P Jones, All Aunt Hagar’s Children

A Kind of Freedom is a family saga that covers three generations from 1944 through 2011. It is told through the viewpoints of three different narrators each representing different key timeframes in the Amer
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was sad when this book ended, and that's saying a lot coming from me because I usually think books are too long. I wanted to know more about each member of this extended creole family. The book is set in New Orleans in three time periods and skips back and forth among the stories of the three main protagonists.

In 1944 Evelyn is attending nursing school. She and her two siblings are the children of a doctor. Her father has ambitions for her which go awry when Evelyn falls in love with Renard,
Jessica Woodbury
My entire reading life is spent chasing a specific kind of thrill, the thrill of being so emotionally involved in a story that it has power over me. I look for other thrills too but this is the one that I want most, and sometimes I go for long stretches without feeling it. I was in that kind of stretch recently. I read most of the best books of 2017 very early in the year but then there were many perfectly good books but books that didn't have absolute control over my brain. Until now.

There are
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love love love this book. The author tells a beautifully tragic story of young love, upward mobility, ambition, success, unrealized potential, and even mental illness across three generations of a New Orleans family. Throughout, she delicately and expertly balances heavy themes of race, class, and colorism within a moving and suspenseful plot.

I have read tons of novels and I enjoy jumping into the lives of characters and imagining what might happen when the written story ends. While reading,
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“That was the thing about people on the outside. They thought it cheered him up to see their faces, but it just reminded him too much of freedom when everybody knew it was better to adjust to the kind of freedom available on the inside.”

Heartbreaking yet luminous A Kind of Freedom is a truly impressive debut. Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's prose struck me as assured and lucid. Sexton entwines three narratives, each following a different generation of the sa
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up on a whim after I saw it on the National Book Awards longlist and was also delighted to find it available here in my local library in NZ.

Set in New Orleans and jumping between three generations of the same family it initially reminded me of another debut novel Homegoing in particular the way both authors trace the effects of racism through multiple generations. I think A Kind of Freedom does this less overtly, however the reader is left in no doubt as to the reasons wh
Book Riot Community
Spanning over 70 years, this powerful debut novel follows a Creole woman and her children in New Orleans as they deal with love, addiction, racism, redemption, and the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. It’s a stark look at the legacy of racial disparity in the South, as Eleanor and her family seek to make a life for themselves.

Backlist bump: Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books:
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-read, usa
Move over, Jonathan Franzen, this is only Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's first (!) book and she already wrote a blues version of the Great American Novel. Set in the author's hometown of New Orleans and spanning from 1944 until 2010, "A Kind of Freedom" tells the story of three generations of a black family. The protagonists are confronted with different historical events, from WW II to hurricane Katrina, and are subjected to the changing nature of racial relations over the course of these decades. ...more
Joy D
Set in New Orleans in three time periods, this novel follows the stories of three individuals of different generations in the same family. In 1944, Evelyn, daughter of a successful black doctor, develops a relationship with a young man from a lower social station, though his future appears bright. In 1986, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, a new mother, is coping with her husband’s drug addiction. In 2010, as the city is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Jackie’s son, T.C., is being rele ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short book, but it seems much shorter because it spans 3 separate generations. It starts out in the 1940's with a well off Creole family. I think I enjoyed that story the most. Then the next generation, takes place in the 1980's, and the third generation is set in 2010. The time frame also seemed a little too stretched out. The characters seemed much younger in the subsequent generations but when I did the math of the years, I thought they should have been older.

I liked this. It was a
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
[4+] I finished A Kind of Freedom right before my first visit to New Orleans a few days ago. The novel is about three generations of families in New Orleans - during WWII, in the 80s and the present (post Katrina). Sexton writes well, exploring their lives and the legacy of racism in the South. It was an involving, powerful read and lingered with me throughout my days in New Orleans, informing the way I saw the city.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s debut novel is a densely layered, stunningly rendered account of three generations of New Orleanians, all of whom are striving to sustain their family’s wealth, health, and freedom by the means available to black people of their time.

Sexton’s account of the impermanence of black American wealth felt specifically relevant, given the New York Times’ recent study about the dismal outcomes for even the most well-off black boys. This piece received a WHOLE lot of buzz on m
Never Without a Book
The end of slavery meant freedom, but not entirely. A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Sexton tells the story of three generations of one black family in New Orleans, as told through three of its members: Evelyn, her daughter Jackie, and Jackie's son T.C. Shifting between 1940’s, 1980’s and 2010.
Evelyn, a daughter of a well-to-do family (her mother is Creole, her father a black doctor who has raised himself to respectability), and Renard, a young man from a poor Twelfth Ward neighborhood who works
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great writing. Great debut.

I think I would have enjoyed this more had the story been linear and if there had been more information about each generation. Jumping back and forth between generations kept pulling me out of the current story. I also wanted to know so much more, especially about Evelyn and how she handled motherhood and marriage to Renard. I loved their story, and Ruby's audacious behavior was so entertaining. I wanted to stay with them throughout the novel, or at least stay with th
This book brought tears to my eyes. The characters’ and their desires and dreams, so often thwarted by their reality and all its barriers, and the love and hope holding the different generations of a family together were all so beautifully written.
Rachel León
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, read-in-2017
I've been a bit more generous with my star ratings lately, but this novel is fully deserving of every single star. I'm reviewing this one for CHIRB and I'm trying to figure out how to possibly do this remarkable book justice. Another worthy contender for best book of the year.

Here's the link to the review:
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book - what there was of it. And I wanted to love it, but there's not enough "there" there for me to even give it 4 stars. Covering 70 years and 3 generations, this book was too short to do real justice to any of the characters. I wanted more about everything: more about each one of the characters. More about life as a black person in New Orleans in the 1940's onward. More in general about everything. I suppose it would have to be another novel, but I'd love to have heard how and wh ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sexton takes us from World War II New Orleans through 2010 by tracing the adventures of a family. The story begins with twenty-two year old Evelyn, who’s studying to become a nurse, then to Jackie Marie who married her high school sweetheart, and finally to her son T. C. Like most people’s lives there experience is alternately happy and sad but a thread that runs through out the book are relationships between the women especially sisters and how they can be loving and enriching whole also compet ...more
Kasa Cotugno
The end of slavery meant freedom, but not entirely. Life in 1944 New Orleans is far from ideal for this despite their privileged beginnings as the only Creole physician in the Seventh Ward. Nelson and his wife only want the best for their two daughters, but life doesn't always run the track we want it to. Shifting between 1944, 1986 and 2010, the course of the family is charted through three succeeding generations, and becomes richer with each invocation until when the final page is turned, set ...more
This is the first of the 10 books on the 2017 National Book Award Fiction longlist I have read. It is a debut novel. The book is told by three members of an extended family living in New Orleans. The three family members are Evelyn (mother of second narrator and grandmother of the third narrator), Jackie (daughter of Evelyn and mother of the third narrator), and T.C. (grandson of Evelyn and son of Jackie).

We hear first from Evelyn, then Jackie, and then T.C., each telling the story of the famil
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Allow me to begin on a positive note: I really like this cover.

Also it is nice to see a young author get published. Also the National Book Award 2017 Fiction judges felt this was good enough to make their longlist. Also Sexton attempts to touch upon a number of very important topical issues like rascism, poverty, addiction, crime, faith, war, voter suppression, infidelity, food insecurity, and the importance of access to a good education.

Alright, people, I am done with the positive. There was al
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I read this book as I was writing my wedding vows. It brought a very grounding emotion to this my 50-11th draft. I loved the way Sexton allowed the characters to make real life decisions and it made the characters easy to connect with. I finished it overnight in one sitting and I look foreward to reading it again in the future.
This was a 4 - 4.5 read for me.
Thoughts coming shortly
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Homegoing and The Turner House
A Kind of Freedom is one hell of a page turner. Even though there was a bit of a lag towards the second half, I definitely enjoyed this story.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have really been attentive to first lines in essays, memoirs, books lately. "Later, Evelyn would look back and remember that she wasn't the one who noticed Renard first" (p1).

I was drawn in by that first line. I found the whole multi-generational novel about love and racial inequality in a New Orleans family a wonderful read, only more impressive to realize this is Sexton's debut novel. We're in for a treat with her, I think, and I cannot wait to read more of her fiction.

The story begins in 19
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short novel given that it shows institutional racism, family relations and personal choices as they unfold over three generations in New Orleans. The characters are well drawn but the episodic structure and cross-cutting story lines tend to soften the intensity. Still, an enjoyable read, and the audiobook is very well performed by Bahni Turpin, Kevin Kenerly and Adenrele Ojo. Glad the National Book Award long list brought this book to my attention.
A Kind of Freedom describes the legacy of slavery carried on as institutionalized racism through a multigenerational story of a Black family in New Orleans.

We follow three main characters through which the story is told: Evelyn in the 1940s who falls in love with less well-off Renard, her daughter Jackie in the 1980s who just had a baby and is trying to figure out life with her husband who is trying to recover from drug addiction, and finally Jackie’s son T.C. in the 2010’s who has just been re
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This New Orleans set story should’ve been at least 100 more pages. That’s both a positive and negative analysis of the book. 4 ⭐️
More 2.5 stars

I wanted to love this, I actually started this book expecting it to be at least a four star read, based on Howe it was recommended to me and what i heard in reviews from friends here on goodreads or booktuber.
It sounded like a book I would love.
Family story? Gernation overarchingly told? Different culture than my own? Different timelines throughout the story?
Basically checking every box I look for in my "contemporary" reads.

And this wasn't bad, it's not horrible written or has un
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“For the rest of her life, Jackie wouldn't forget that comment. She and her daddy weren't as close as they had been, and she felt a pang in her chest whenever she saw him with Sybil, but most of that jealousy was mitigated by T.C. When she had the baby, she realized how much a parent loved a child, and she assumed her father's feelings for her were at least as sturdy. Because of that perspective, all this time she had also assumed that when he asked her how she was doing, when he drove her car to the lot for oil changes, moved her furniture, stopped by unannounced, and paid her light bill, that there was nothing else in the world he'd rather be doing. In reality though he'd been building up anger with every check he signed, every mile he drove, and the last thing she wanted was a favor laced in resentment. She waited for her mam to cut in with a word that might coat the ferocity of what had just been said, but there was only silence, a heavy resolve as though Jackie were the one who needed to explain, as if she would do anything differently if the circumstances tumbled into her lap again.” 3 likes
“He was by no means a thief, but Jackie had learned the hard way that life could drag disgrace out of you.” 1 likes
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