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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  4,806 ratings  ·  852 reviews
The critically acclaimed and Whiting Award–winning author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman returns with an unforgettable story about the meaning of freedom.
Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 30th 2021 by Algonquin Books
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Amanda It's a very minor sidebar- there are two characters who are confirmed to be lesbians, but there is no in-depth description of their relationship. …moreIt's a very minor sidebar- there are two characters who are confirmed to be lesbians, but there is no in-depth description of their relationship. (less)
Laya One happens, and the circumstances around it relate to the overall themes of the book, but it is just treated as something that happens. The topic of …moreOne happens, and the circumstances around it relate to the overall themes of the book, but it is just treated as something that happens. The topic of suicide is not a focus of the book overall.(less)

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Average rating 3.55  · 
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Apr 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting novel. Libertie is the daughter of a physician. Both she and her mother are free black women. The novel begins near the end of the Civil War, Libertie as a child, helping her mother tend to the people in their Brooklyn Community. This is a coming of age story. It is very interior and Libertie is a fascinating, infuriating protagonist. She makes so many confounding decisions and is, at times, her own worst enemy. But still, toward the end of the novel,
She finds a moral clar
Mar 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." - Nelson Mandela

Libertie Sampson's mother was a practicing physician in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, New York. Her mother had a vision for her - to be a physician like herself. Her entire life, her mother molded Libertie to be a doctor with hopes that one day they would practice medicine together. Dreams are wonderful, except when your dream differs from the one who has
The only good poem I’ve ever written is you. A daughter is a poem. A daughter is a kind of psalm. You, in the world, responding to me, is a song I made. I cannot make another.

In Kaitlyn Greenidge’s sophomore novel Libertie we are taken to Brooklyn where we meet Libertie and her mother Cathy a free Black practising physician. With the death of her father, Libertie is raised by her very strong mother who is known as a level-headed physician for Black people. With more enslaved persons taking t
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3½ stars (possibly to be rounded up to 4)

“I saw my mother raise a man from the dead. It still didn't help him much, my love, she told me. But I saw her do it all the same. That's how I knew she was magic.”

I was hooked by Libertie's opening paragraph. Set during and after the American Civil War Kaitlyn Greenidge's novel is narrated by Libertie the daughter of a Black female doctor. As the child of a free-woman Libertie is born free at a time when slavery
Whitney Erwin
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book started off pretty interesting but got slow. I considered DNFing it a couple times but went ahead and finished it. I didn’t care for the character of Libertie or her mother and there wasn’t enough of a plot for me.
Amy Imogene Reads
4.5 stars

From girlhood to womanhood, Libertie is one woman's journey to freedom—both mental and physical—inspired by the life of one of America's first Black female doctors. Talk about some stunning writing and storytelling.

Writing: ★★★★★
Plot/Pacing: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★

I think this book is going to be the source of a lot of discussion this year. It feels like a story that will last, not the least because of its captivating writing and strong sense of character.

Libertie is a free born Black wo
Apr 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
[3.5] Libertie lives in the shadow of her successful mother, a freeborn black doctor, and struggles to find a place for herself. Set during Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, an all Black college in Ohio and her husband's home in Haiti - I enjoyed the historical detail. I also appreciate Greenridge's writing and her nuanced character portrayals. For me, at least in my current mood, this novel moves too slowly. I was always aware of the page count which surprisingly is only 323 pages. ...more
Larry H
Apr 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: blog-tour, arc
3.5 stars.

Thought-provoking and emotional, Kaitlyn Greenidge's Libertie is a reflection on what freedom really means and how relationships of all kinds are sometimes the things keeping you from being free.

“How is it possible to become free when you do not even know who you are?”

Libertie is a girl growing up in post-Civil War Brooklyn. Her fearless mother is a doctor, and Libertie marvels at the things she can do. And her mother has a plan—Libertie will become a doctor, too, and they can have
Kelsey Mangeni (kman.reads)
Libertie is growing up during the Reconstruction era, training under her mother, a black physician.

This book started out interestingly enough, but as it went on it got slower, and more boring, and then uncomfortable, then annoying, and then kid of infuriating. And the ending was pretty dissatisfying for me. I just really need a strong female character and Libertie didn't really make any choices for herself until the last couple pages, but then it just ended.

Trigger warnings: the n words, sexua
Mar 18, 2021 rated it liked it
I’ve been contemplating what I want to say about this book. I’m perplexed and deeply torn.

This book is about a woman, Dr. Sampson, who is the first and only Black woman doctor in the county. Light enough to pass for white, Dr. Sampson has a daughter, Libertie who has skin like midnight. This daughter of hers, she is grooming to have her join her practice and help/aid women in their county. However, this story is narrated from the daughter, Libertie’s perspective, and Libertie, is searching for
4.5 stars

Libertie is an historical fiction set in the late 1800s. Our titular character is named for her dying father's wish for her to know true freedom. But Libertie, although intelligent, well spoken, and beautiful will struggle to be released from society's strongholds. In the book her mother's character is loosely based on Susan McKinney Steward, the first black doctor in New York state. Although this bit of history is interesting, Libertie is not focused so much on the mother's accomplishm
May 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Libertie Sampson was born free. The daughter of a single mother and accomplished doctor, she was supposed to have a bright future and follow in her mother's footsteps, but living someone else's dream would not be her future.

The book is so rich in culture and history. I could see the characters vividly, and if you regularly read my reviews, you know that the thing I love most in fiction is a well-developed character. This novel did not disappoint.

I love when I read a book outside my norm that rea
I'm unsure if this is a forever DNF, but it is a 'right now' DNF. I'm struggling. I made it to 53% through the book. I read the first 154 pages and then switched to the audio in hopes that it would reinvigorate my interest in the story. There were passages that were written beautifully and I was highlighting like crazy, but there is something missing to really bring the story to life for me. I don't feel invested in any of the characters or the story. Maybe I'll try again someday, but when I'm n ...more
Jessica Woodbury
4.5 stars. What a gorgeous and rich novel. Having read Greenidge's previous book I wasn't surprised at how big a swing this is and how much she takes on to explore in addition to the central mother-daughter narrative.

LIBERTIE explores what it means to be free and the many ways people carve out their own kind of freedom in the world. Libertie herself has always been free and as the daughter of a female doctor in her Black Brooklyn community she has a privilege she doesn't recognize. As a child, h
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

I was not sure what to expect when I plunked Libertie from my staggering TBR. I had not read Kaitlyn Greenidge before, but I was drawn to both the themes in the jacket description and the novel’s unique setting. I have not encountered many stories set in Haiti, and I could not resist jumping at the opportunity to indulge my interest in culturally diverse historicals.

Greenidge’s novel is not a strict biographic fiction, but b
One of the most enjoyable experience for me is reading about coming of age stories that follow a character from the time of youth to adulthood, and where the character arc is evident through a masterful storytelling. I thought Greenidge accomplished and captured the voice of Libertie beautifully.

Libertie is a story set in the Reconstruction era post American Civil War circa 1865 that is focused on Libertie Sampson, the daughter of the first practicing black female physician in Brooklyn. Since a
I give this book a 3.5. Libertie is loosely based real people. Dr. Sampson is based on free born Dr. Susan Stewart. The 3rd AA black female doctor in the US. She also had a daughter who married the son of a Haitian Episcopalian Bishop. Other than that, I'm not sure how true the rest of the story is.
This is supposed to be a coming of age story for Libertie but I'm not sure it translated into that. We do go through Libertie's life from childhood to adulthood but I didn't see any growth or profound
Ms. Woc Reader
Apr 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Libertie is written in a very lyrically style that immediately sucks you into the story. I loved her voice and thought the narrator did a great job capturing it. Despite it's Reconstruction era setting it's not very graphic in violence against Black people so if that usually deters you from picking up books set within that time period it's not a problem here.

This story starts with Libertie as a young girl living with her mother who is one of the few Black women physicians. Her mother has big dre
RoseMary Achey
May 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
This was a tough one for me to get through! I ideals, concept and writing was beautiful, but the story and ending were particularly dull. I understand what the author was trying to do however the characters and execution did not keep this reader engaged.
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
"Their need was monstrous."

It wasn't only the barn cats that frightened Libertie by their demands and needs. Every one seemed to want something from her.

First, her mother, a free, black, homeopathic doctor who determined that Libertie would follow into her career. Her mother was deemed a saint, caring for the whole world, secreting slaves into freedom, and healing black and white alike.

Libertie was overwhelmed by the diseases of the body, but it was the diseases of the mind that most troubled
Amy | Foxy Blogs
I love the eye-catching cover of Libertie.

The story was inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States. The story is told through the daughter, Libertie, a born free Black girl during the Reconstruction era of Brooklyn.

The book centers around this mother-daughter relationship from childhood into womanhood. Libertie's mom is a light-skinned Black woman who takes great pride in helping women with medical problems. Libertie is a dark-skinned Black woman who work
Chelsea Amber
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
A book with stunning cover art and attention-grabbing opener, but was ultimately the most boring thing I've read so far this year.

Libertie seemed like a lot of telling—I felt like I was just going through the motions of someone's life rather than experiencing anything alongside them. The writing, while at times beautiful, was frequently clumsy. Though considered a coming-of-age, I don't feel as though Libertie actually grew or developed in any sense; I'm not sure what the message is meant to be.
Libertie is such an apropos title for this coming of age tale of a daughter's deep longing for autonomy and her universally relatable search for self knowledge. While the ending is satisfying, it leaves open the possibility of a sequel. Relating realistic social justice and equity challenges for women and Blacks (including colorism) during the U.S. era of Reconstruction following the Civil War and also similar efforts in Haiti, written by a Black author. ...more
Andrea (EvergreensAndBookishThings)
Libertie is described as a coming of age story, and I suppose the main character comes of age, but the story doesn’t include any hallmarks of a Bildungsroman.

Libertie does not seem to have any grand self realizations, and goes through life vicariously, never finding her own calling. Inexplicably, the pace of the novel was very slow, while her life choices moved at warp speed. Each time another set of characters she encounters was introduced, I thought perhaps this is where things will dig deeper
Apr 13, 2021 rated it liked it
the writing was lovely, but the plot really didnt work for me
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
The writing in this book was very lovely, a meandering way with words to tell the story. I think the description on the jacket cover of the plot is incorrect; I expected a different type of story, but really, this is about a Black girl finding herself in a different time period than the one we live in, and I appreciated it.
Cook Memorial Public Library
Jo's Pick of the Week. Read about it on the Cook Memorial Public Library blog, Shelf Life:

Check our catalog:
Leighellen Landskov
I really wanted to like this one.

I chose this book for my @BOTM club book club with #mommaleighellensbookclub! Usually, after we discuss the books together at the end of the month, it makes me like them even more. But with this one, our discussion just confirmed that this book missed the mark.

"The only good poem I've ever written is you. A daughter is a poem. A daughter is a kind of psalm. You, in the world, responding to me, is the song I made. I cannot make another.”

At its core, this book is
Laura • lauralovestoread
Initially I loved the story that was unfolding, and found Mr Ben Daisy to be one of the most vibrant characters, but in the end I felt like I was reading a completely different book than what I initially fell in love with.

I craved more of the story between mother and daughter that was found in the beginning and was so fascinated by the story of a woman physician during the 19th century.

*Thank you for the ALC audiobook. The narrator was great and really brought Libertie’s story to life
Hillary Copsey
May 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Really solid historical fiction, interesting point of view (the daughter of free, Black, woman doctor around the time of the Civil War). But I never felt close to the narrator or the story. I never felt compelled to keep reading. This was a book I never minded setting down.
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Kaitlyn Greenidge received her MFA from Hunter College. Greenidge was the recipient of a Hertog Fellowship and the Bernard Cohen Short Story Prize. She was a Bread Loaf scholar, a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace artist-in-residence, and a Johnson State College visiting emerging writer. Her work has appeared in the Believer, the Feminist Wire, At Length, Fortnight Journal, Green Mountain ...more

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“The only good poem I’ve ever written is you. A daughter is a poem. A daughter is a kind of psalm. You, in the world, responding to me, is the song I made. I cannot make another.” 4 likes
“I am not surprised by the cruelty, Mama," I said. "I am surprised we are expected to ignore it, to never mention it, to swim in it as if it's the oily, smelly harbor water the boys dive into by the wharves.” 2 likes
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