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Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Based on the true story of Harriet Ann Jacobs, Letters from a Slave Girl reveals in poignant detail what thousands of African American women had to endure not long ago, sure to enlighten, anger, and never be forgotten.

Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery; it's the only life she has ever known. Now, with the death of her mistress, there is a chance she will be given her fre
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Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Start your review of Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs
Dinah Moore
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Well written. Informative and heartbreaking. From the POV of Harriet Ann Jacobs about her life and eventual escape from a southern plantation. Great discussion type book for middle graders. I really enjoyed the the pictures, drawings, and maps in the back of the book.
Barbara
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow! As I turned every page I could not help but feel as if I was living life beside this Slave Girl in the 1830's. The author of this book took me deep into the life of young girl name Harriet Jacob, where I did not experience her life from the outside, but from her personal place where all her thoughts and true feelings were hidden...her diary, letters to her loved ones.

The reality and the rawness of Harriet Jacobs' story is what makes this book so captivating. I experienced each event with H
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Laura
I chose this book from the library simply because I thought I was in a rut. I've been reading a string of fantasy and science fiction books and I needed something new. If I'm going to tell my students to branch out, I ought to also.

The content of Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs is very mature. It talks about how her master sought to use her sexually with her consent while another older white man was given her favors while she was in her teens. Some of my middle school stud
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Iliana
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was heartbreaking due to the nature of what was Harriet's life at the time. I felt compassion and hoped she would triumph in the end. ...more
Millie Taylor
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I snagged this book from my daughter's school during their end of year book giveaway. After reading some hard sci-fi, I needed something a bit easier and this filled the bill quite nicely. The time period (1825-1897) is one of my favorite times to read about in American history, though the things that happened were horrifying, to say the least.

Harriet's story was one of hardship, love, and tears. You could feel the pain she felt when one of her loved ones died or was sold to a new master, along
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Nadja Carrington
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Book " Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs" was about a girl of African American Descent named Harriet Ann. Harriet Ann was born into slavery but did not know until her adolescent years. When Harriet's mother had died her owner had promised Harriet's father freedom if he could pay for it. He father began saving up meanwhile Mrs. Margaret was getting ill. While on her death bed she was helping Harriet learn to read and write. Harriet had dreams to make it to the North with ...more
Oksana Leslie
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My middle schooler had to read it over the summer, so I got interested. This book expanded my horizons on American history. Love it. It did make me cry.
Young Jin
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read this book because it was a school assignment, and it was a good book for readers to sleep at night.
Lauren
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
There aren't many books out there from the perspective of a female slave in the 1800s, but Letters from a Slave Girl makes me want to seek out others. I have always had a difficult time wrapping my mind around the idea of slavery and how people could convince themselves of the validity of such practices, and this story has only encouraged my incredulity. Walking through Harriet's life and viewing the losses, grief, and struggle for freedom for herself and her children is both inspiring and horri ...more
Alice Sather
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely a book for discussion and thought, especially for 5-8th graders. Adults can read it quickly. This is not the book Ms. Jacobs wrote herself, but is based upon that book and events during the time she lived.
Alisa Dyson
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great information

Great book, almost felt like it was me whom actually wrote the book and actually experienced this...often makes me sad at the scarifies that were made before i was born to have a better life .
Karen
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Powerful, heartbreaking and hopeful. Four stars.
Natalie
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book. It was hard to read at times, but that's true of most books about slavery. I'm now very interested in the real book written by the real life main character of this one. ...more
Susanne
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I would recommend this to students grades 6 and up who enjoy biographies and American history and especially want to learn more about the impact of slavery on young women and their families.
Nicole
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Damn they did not hold anything back when showcasing the unique way black women suffered under slavery. They didn't have to go into graphic detail for the point and horror to come across clearly. ...more
Jamie
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I need to read her autobiography now.
Linda Wrobleski
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
Short book that really makes you think. I could never have dreamed of spending years in hiding, and so many more pieces.
Amber
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Quick read but boring.
Gracie Watkins
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Breathtaking
thrilling
entertaining
and so much more
Denise
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bought this on our trip back East to Virginia at an NPS bookstore.
A YA novel, based on the true events of a real person, as written up in her 1861 autobiographical work: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
Poignant, sad.
Dreamergirl
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book showed the hard slave life very interestingly- through letters it shows a life of a girl, a woman and a mother- Harriet Jacobs. When her kind mistress dies when she is 12 years old, she is left at the mercy of her cruel new master, who is very abusive to her, like her father, she can't take the struggle of daily slavery life anymore. She than falls in love with a man she calls R throughout the book, afraid that someone will find it. She asks the Doctor's (her master's) approval to marr ...more
Komugi Madara
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is about this girl called Harriet Jacobs, the slave girl. She lost her mother when she was young, but she writes letters to her dead mother about her life in America. It starts with how the person who was treating Harriet like a real daughter dies. She writes her mother about the funeral, and how dad told her to be strong. Then the story begins. She tells her mom how much she wants to go back to Africa, how much she wants to see her mother, how tough it is to work there, and how there ...more
Dale
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The fictionalized version of a real-life runaway slave story.

Mary E. Lyons' book is a fictionalized account of the true story of Harriet Jacobs, a slave girl from North Carolina who escaped and hid in her grandmother's attic for seven years, beginning in 1835, before making her way north to freedom.

Lyons chose to use a fictional diary format to tell the story of Harriet Jacobs. In real life Jacobs could read and write and actually published a book about her life in 1861 called Incidents in th
...more
Vilo
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This is a powerful look into slavery using incidents in the life of a real woman, Harriet Jacobs. There is another book "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," which is by Harriet Jacobs. A friend said that reading the "Letters" first would make "Incidents" a little easier to read. Mary Lyons has done a good job of using powerful scenes from Jacobs' life in a way that young readers could understand. It made me think about what a trap slavery was for white men and women--leading them to do all s ...more
Jen
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Harriet Jacobs has an amazing story. I learned about her life during the African American Cultural Celebration in Raleigh, and was pleasantly surprised to find this book in our library collection. It was in the Juvenile section, and I'm moving it to YA - there are situations in this book that make it unsuitable for young children.

I wish the author had continued the theme of the book throughout the text. The last section is narrated in a more textual fashion, but would have been much more effect
...more
Keaton AXtell
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Letters from a Slave Girl is about a young girl and her childhood life as a slave in a Southern community, and her struggles that she had with gender and racial discrimination at the time. The book utilizes the form of journals as its organization, as each passage is a separate journal. This adds to the books effectiveness at relaying its points, as it is also written in the current vernacular as well. The perspective in which the book is written also adds to the effect that the book has on the ...more
English315/educ510
Ever wondered what it was like to live as a slave girl? Do you struggle with ordeals in your life and think that no one could possible understand? Mary E. Lyons takes Harriet Jacob's book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and transforms her accounts into letters to lost relatives and friends. The letters are intriguing because they give accounts of Harriet's struggles as a slave girl. She writes about her unfulfilling promises, lost love, her children. The letters also give a biography. It ...more
Esmeralda Luz Hernandez
I like that in this book, they are real letters. Some authors come up with fake letters and sometimes, they have wrong about this event in America. Also, I like how this is from a girl. I am not being sexist, I am just saying that not many people know that girls are really the ones that had it the worst during slavery. Not just about the work because men and women work equally but with taking care of their children and their master's children. Also, most slave women and girls got raped and sexua ...more
Nakelle
Apr 30, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is based on the true actual letters or Harriet Jacobs but these are not the actual collection of the letters. The book is written in letter form but it is only based on the true story. I had a really hard time following this book and coming to the understanding of the olden time language that was spoken by this young slave girl. The storyline is very emotional and will leave you looking for a box of tissues.
Yoon Jin-  ISB
Sep 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is heart-wrenching story about an African slave girl in NC. It was really interesting to read about the unfair treatments that slaves had to face during back time. The most interesting but also, sad part was when she couldn’t meet her children for many years by hiding from polices. This book gives readers how did a slave girl felt about the events she had faced. Historian who wants to figure out about the perspectives that slaves had during back time, this book is waiting for you.
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Mary E. Lyons, a former teacher and librarian, became a full-time writer in 1993. She is the author of nineteen books for young readers published by Scribner, Atheneum, Henry Holt, Houghton Mifflin and Oxford University Press.

Born and raised in the American South, Mary Lyons lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband, Paul. Her publications for adults include The Blue Ridge Tunnel: A Re
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