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Freshwater Road

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  965 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer her efforts in Freedom Summer, she's assigned to help register voters in the small town of Pineyville, a place best known for a notorious lynching that occurred only a few years earlier. As the long, hot summer unfolds, Celeste befriends several members of the community, but there are a ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Gallery Books (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-45)
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Jenee Rager
Aug 04, 2013 Jenee Rager rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2009 Becka rated it liked it
I did not realize how dangerous the Civil Rights Movement was in Mississippi... this book has opened my eyes to the depth and widespread racism that lay inherent in the South during the 60's - far more intense than history books ever painted it in my mind. Great read.
Apr 04, 2011 Peggy rated it it was amazing
This is a wondul historic fiction novel about, Celeste Tyree, an idealistic University of Michigan African American student, who takes the summer off and heads to Mississippi to work for the voting rights of the black population there. Set in the early 60's, the novel is the story of the voter rights movement and the violence and cruelty that the black people in the south endured until they earned the right to vote.

Celeste goes to Pineyville, Mississippi, where she runs the One Man, One Vote off
Kasa Cotugno
In 1964 Denise Nicholas, while still a student, went to Mississippi as a volunteer for the One Man One Vote Movement. Over 40 years later, she used her experiences as a springboard for the events in this absorbing novel. I started reading it out of respect for the author who I met on a train earlier this year, but found myself caught up in the propellant plot and the gorgeous prose. Her literary style is vibrant with the history she experienced firsthand. Thanks to her clarity, humor and compass ...more
Aug 31, 2013 Allison rated it really liked it
I coincidentally read this book at the same time the movie "The Butler" (which I saw) came out in the theater, and while I found it at times to be wordy, lengthy and a bit too descriptive, I did enjoy the story of Celeste Tyree (if enjoy is the correct word to be used when reading about the Freedom Project). Page after page I felt tired, sore, rundown, hot and sticky along with Celeste, and the author did a very good job describing the events that took place in two summer months. This is a good ...more
Nov 05, 2012 Delores rated it liked it

As far as content, this book was a great read. I could actually visualize how things were in Mississippi during the Civil Rights movement. I could imagine the fear of the black people and when Sissy died, i felt it in my heart. However, this book was not an easy read. I can read books usually within a day or two. It took me a week to read this book.
Aug 23, 2013 Hope rated it really liked it
Excellent historical fiction account of Freedom Summer. I often wonder if I would have had as much courage as those known and unknown heroes of the Civil Rights movement to stand up for justice and basic human rights. I would like to think so.
Mayssa Taha
Jan 22, 2015 Mayssa Taha rated it liked it
It was an interesting story but It felt like it took forever to read. The writing was beautiful but almost TOO pretty.There were alot of pages that were describing thins I didn't feel were important. All in all the story was great. Just expected MORE
Feb 26, 2013 Patty rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome book! The first novel by Denise Nicholas (of Room 222 fame) tells the story of the fight to get African American voting rights in early 1960s Mississippi. The story is so well written and compelling that it was hard for me to put down.
Jan 02, 2010 Msladydeborah rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes historical novels with a realistic storyline.
Freshwater Road was number one on my personal reading list in 2009. I was totally immersed in the story from the beginning to the end. This is definitely one of the better novels written about the Civil Rights Era. It has a lot of texture within the story line. It is a well written novel.
Toledo (T.J.)
Feb 26, 2013 Toledo (T.J.) rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the perspective this book brought to the Voting Rights time in the South. Gentle, thoughtful touches were scattered throughout.
May 05, 2017 Bob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I don't give many 5 star reviews. I reserve 5 stars for classics and those which i hold as undiscovered classics. This is one of those. The story is one that needs to be told. It's about the fight for voting rights in the Mississippi in the early 1960s. I was a teenager back then, living in the north, and blissfully unaware of the different world that existed in the south, except for the occasional news broadcast showing marches and talking about civil rights. Things i really didn't understand a ...more
Jun 14, 2017 Judy rated it really liked it
Mississippi 1964 - need I say more? A heart wrenching novel set during Freedom Summer through the eyes of a Detroit college woman who lives in a tiny town in Mississippi to help children learn Black History, and adults learn what's needed to register to vote. It's not that simple a story of course, as relationships develop (or don't). Simultaneously, you get a view of her own struggles with family, men, and being middle class black during this time period. I'm so glad I found this book.
Wally Wood
May 03, 2016 Wally Wood rated it really liked it
Freshwater Road, a ten-year-old novel which has just been re-released, reads as if author Denise Nicholas is writing from the inside; that is, based on lived experience rather than research. The protagonist, Celeste Tyree, is a black, 19-year-old University of Michigan sophomore who volunteers to go to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to teach in a Freedom School and to register black voters.

Celeste has grown up in Detroit, is virtually middle-class in her values and economic situation. Her fat
Dec 08, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
It is the Freedom Summer of 1964. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner have gone missing. Celeste Tyree, a black student at Michigan who grew up in Detroit has gone to be a voting rights volunteer in Mississippi at the urgings of her white boyfriend, J.D.

The novel takes us inside the realities of Sixties racism in Mississippi. The town to which Celeste is assigned has had a lynching within the last five years. While training in Jackson, she is harassed while distributing leaflets
Dori Kalish
Jan 20, 2014 Dori Kalish rated it liked it
The Mississippi part of the story really gave me a sense of how terrifying it was to just exist in the state in 1964. And as dangerous as almost any normal activity was for black Mississippians, how incredibly dangerous as well as difficult it was to register to vote. But, I think the author tried to put in too much about the heroine's (Celeste) family issues, and too much of how she wanted to go back home. I understand that is a plot device so that when Celeste wants to stay we feel how Mississ ...more
May 21, 2015 readinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Celeste Tyree has led a somewhat privileged life. Having grown up in Detroit she is now a sophomore at the University of Michigan. The daughter of a prominent business owner, she has never experienced the hard life that some young black people have. Celeste thinks she knows what life is all about. But it is the summer of 1964 and the situation in Mississippi has begun to heat up. The Summer of Freedom draws Celeste to the small Mississippi town of Pineyville.

With orientation in Jackson, Celeste
Feb 12, 2013 Mel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Freshwater Road is based on the voting rights drives of the 1960s. This one takes place in 1964 in Mississippi. The main character is a college student from Detroit who decides to go down to Mississippi to help out. The story is mostly about her interactions with both Whites and Blacks in a small town.

The book depicts this era very well. The despair, defeat, and hope come through in each of the characters. The characters and the plot could have been ripped from the pages of history books for man
Katrina Burchett
It was the summer of 1964- Freedom Summer. Nineteen-year-old Celeste Tyree traveled to Jackson, Mississippi to teach Negroes in Freedom School and to help with voter registration. She was assigned to work in Pineyville, Mississippi. As she rode with one of the other volunteers on her way to this small town, she began to think that the civil rights movement she chose to become a part of wasn’t what she had expected – young students, Negro and white, risking their lives for what was right - but sh ...more
Dec 10, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi by Denise Nicholas.
Celeste Tyree leaves her comfortable home in Ann Arbor to travel to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to participate in a voter registration project as a part of "Freedom Summer." Pineyville Mississippi is a whole world away from the comfortable home Celeste grew up in. Celeste must learn to deal with the realities of poverty in rural Mississippi while also dealing with her own issues with race and her own family.

Denise Nich
Apr 27, 2016 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two interesting things about this novel: 1. It is a ten-year anniversary reissue of the book. 2. Author, Denise Nicholas, is a successful actress. I don't know how I missed it on the first issue, but glad I discovered it now. I grew up in the segregated south, and lived through the Civil Rights Movement. But, as a white person, how Black citizens lived was an abstract idea for me. I wasn't comfortable with "whites only," and "colored section." Nicholas's has made me feel the degradation of being ...more
Oct 28, 2012 Amber rated it it was amazing
It has been a long time since I've felt as emotionally attached to a novel as I have to Freshwater Road. I laughed and cried right along with Celeste and the other characters, and felt anger at their treatment by Sheriff Trotter in Mississippi, and the overall treatment of African Americans in the south during this time. I've read a lot of books on Freedom Summer, from both sides (being a history major I like to get both sides of the story even when I'm leaning towards one side or the other) but ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this first novel by supporting actor Denise Nicholas in TV series “In the Heat of the Night” well written, engaging, and quite good. It is set primarily in the main character’s home of Detroit and Pineyville, Mississippi during what became known as Freedom Summer, 1964. The decision to alternate throughout the book between the two locales is a bit of genius, allowing the reader, without being obvious, a sense of the differences – and parallels – in the African American experience of the ...more
Sheila Gloekler
Apr 27, 2008 Sheila Gloekler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
This is a marvelous book about a young, black college student from Detroit who volunteers in Mississippi to get Negroes registered to vote during what's was known as "Freedom Summer" in the 1960's civil rights movement era. She's sent to a very small town called Pineyville, which has already seen one killing of a black person due to racial issues. Even though the central character is black, she was raised in an upper middle-class environment in Detroit and has to adjust to living as the natives ...more
Jan 06, 2014 Ann rated it liked it
Wanted to read this b/c it was a novelization of the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the summer of '64. Celeste leaves urban Michigan (born in Detroit and college in Ann Arbor) for rural Mississippi where she is the only CR worker in a small town. She worries she's engaging this work to remove the taint of her white boyfriend from her life. She runs a freedom school at the local church, and spends evenings teaching voter registration classes. In the end, some people from the town do get to v ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the plus side, I learned about a piece of the Civil Rights Movement that I hadn't known much about. But I kept being pulled out of that sense of being there by extraneous subplots that didn't have the same power or interest. Why discuss our heroine's past boyfriend and abortion? Why the plot line about her mother? Why the new boyfriend? Why the constant switching back and forth from Mississippi to the father in Detroit? What was the purpose of Sissy's ch ...more
Nov 28, 2012 Cathy rated it really liked it
I felt this was well written. Not a book I was able to rush through quickly. The author made me feel how hot it was in Mississippi in the summer of 1964 when Celeste went there to help register black people to vote. She had a culture shock going from a life of relative ease to abject poverty. No running water. Outhouses. She gives classes at the church in the morning called freedom school to the children and in the evening, to the adults to teach them the Mississippi law so they can pass the tes ...more
Linda Appelbaum
Nov 30, 2012 Linda Appelbaum rated it it was amazing
This was a powerful historical novel about working to register black voters in Mississippi in 1964- where I am happy to say I have never lived. What a deplorable place to have lived if you were black in the early 60s.Blacks had to cross the street when approaching a white on the sidewalk. If a child died, there was no ivestigation. The blacks had no doctors, dentists and were beaten, raped, killed without any punishment to a white.I can't imagine how they survived in Mississippi. Other southern ...more
Sylvia Martinez
Jan 29, 2013 Sylvia Martinez rated it liked it
Freshwater Road was written about a time of change. I was excited to read this book. I love Historical and fictional books. It was about a young girl named Celeste. A naive young girl with idealistic dreams in making her mark in the world. Little did she realize how dangerous her summer trip to Mississippi was going to be. I have to admit I liked the book, but it was long. I think I expected more from the book. It would have been nice to have had a little more about the movement and the reason f ...more
Candelaria Silva
Jan 25, 2016 Candelaria Silva rated it really liked it
A well-written first novel that helps one understand what it was like to be one of the young people working for voting rights in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era.
A young Black college student from Detroit heads a Freedom School and maintains the pledge of non-violence showing the dangers, the fears, and the incredible bravery of the people who hosted the "freedom riders" and braved bucking the American apartheid system despite incredible personal costs.
I highly recommend this novel and ho
Dec 29, 2014 Kristi rated it it was amazing
The eye opener in this book was learning about the obstacles that were put before the black people in order to "qualify" in order to vote! not only the fear of violence but the reading test that had to be passed in order to vote, I venture a guess that there were plenty of white people who wouldn't be able to pass the test either but weren't required to take the same test! a lot of strong people had to face some horrible things to endure and stand up for their rights and pave the way for change. ...more
Oct 20, 2015 Nicole rated it really liked it
This was a difficult, heartbreaking but also inspiring book to read. I am completely awed at the bravery and sacrifice of everyone that participated in the Freedom Summer. I do not know if I could show the solid commitment to even the most personal cause while being shot at and abused and watching people disappear without a trace. While this story was fictional, the events were not, and represented the true heroism of the people involved. My only complaint with the writing was at the very end, i ...more
Maria Jones
Jul 25, 2017 Maria Jones rated it it was amazing
This book provides a personal and experiential look at Freedom Summer through a young woman's eyes! This book goes way beyond the usual intellectual explanation of the civil & voting rights movement - it makes you realize the huge personal sacrifices that people made to forward the cause of American democracy and justice.
Jan 16, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it
I liked reading about this time in history and the young civill rights workers who went south to get southern blacks registered to vote. Something I didn't know much about. I lied the story. I thought the writing was at times beautiful and at other times a bit sophomoric. Overall a good read.
Apr 21, 2014 Sonja rated it really liked it
You know when you first get a Kindle and you go a little crazy buying cheap books because it's so darn easy? Well, this was one of the first Kindle books I bought just for those reasons -- cheap and easy (and it had good ratings and sounded like a good story). When I finally got around to reading it, I wasn't expecting much. But I was pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of loose ends at the end of the book, but I didn't feel like it needed to have every sub-plot wrapped up. I liked Nicholas's ...more
May 07, 2014 Prajna rated it did not like it
Life is too short to read boring books, and unfortunately, this is one of them. Too long, too many thin subplots, too much reflection, and not enough meat to the story. The premise had the potential of being thought-provoking and emotional, but just came across as flat.
Jul 14, 2014 Judith rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: only a very desperate reader.
Recommended to Judith by: C-Span Book TV
Slow...felt to me like it was written for junior high school readers. I got through 115 pages and couldn't do anymore of the uninspiring plot. The book might be the author's first publication or she needs a good proofreader, someone with literary experience.
Dec 21, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read

Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas | A vivid novel about a 19-year-old college student from Michigan who goes to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to help register blacks to vote. #civilrightsmovement
Oct 03, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: project_2015

Regarding Miss'ssippi…the sentiments of folk-singer Phil Oakes are my sentiments. This is an outstanding novel…highly recommended to everyone, especially those who were born after 1975—it's chock-full of the flavors of the times…

Coming of age story of 19 yr old Celeste Tyree, who leaves a rather comfortable life in the Chicago area to get involved in the political and social crisis in MS, where she goes to help African Americans to vote.
Regina Davala
May 18, 2016 Regina Davala rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good city civil rights book

Freshwater Road provides a good insight into young African-Americans going to the south to help blacks there earn the right to vote.
Pam Page
Feb 10, 2013 Pam Page rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I am surprised I never heard more about it. It was written in 2005. It's about a young female college student in Detroit who goes for the summer to Mississippi to register black folks to vote. She is connected with an organization there which is responsible for sending volunteers out to live in different towns for the summer with the purpose of helping the unregistered voters become familiar with the voting test they will be required to take before they vote then gong ...more
Kathy McC
Nov 03, 2013 Kathy McC rated it really liked it
Denise Nicholas writes a fabulous historical fiction novel about the summer of 1964, the "Freedom Summer", in Mississippi. Celeste Tyree, an African American student at the University of Michigan, spends her summer teaching African American children and tutoring adults to take the voters' registration test to earn their voting rights in Mississippi.
It is a stark reminder of life in the deep south at that time. It is artfully written, with just the right amount of humor to lighten up the sadness
Chaplain Stanleigh Chapin

Not having ever lived through that life, even though was of the age to know and read about what was going on, it was far from my life at the time.
Sally Beaudean
Dec 24, 2012 Sally Beaudean rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Denise Nicholas has written a wonderful novel depicting a first-hand experience of a young woman during the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. The descriptions are alive with personified characterizations, allowing the reader to see and feel every aspect of the story. After having read this book, I feel as if I more fully understand what it was like to try to change the strong, racially biased beliefs held so dearly in southern America. The One Man, One Vote movement was an ...more
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Denise Nicholas is an American actress, writer, and social activist who was involved in the American Civil Rights Movement. She is known primarily for her role as high school guidance counselor Liz McIntyre on the ABC comedy-drama series Room 222, and for her role as Councilwoman Harriet DeLong on the NBC/CBS drama series In the Heat of the Night.

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