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Review: Freeman

January 22, 2013

Freeman

After the Civil War ends, runaway slave Sam Freeman is determined to return to Mississippi to find his wife, Tilda, and takes off on foot.  Along the way he encounters Ben, a man on a similar mission and they team up for a while.  When Sam gets to Mississippi, he meets Prudence Kent, a wealthy white widow who’s come from Boston to start a school for newly freed slaves.

Not surprisingly, Prudence’s school is not well received by the white people of the community.  When she finally gets the message that she’s not wanted, she and Sam come up with an elaborate scheme to show the townspeople the worth of the newly freed slaves.

I read Freeman, by Leonard Pitts, Jr., for my book club and will readily admit that I went into it with a bad attitude.  I generally don’t read historical fiction and this is a big book with small print.  Plus, it’s set right after the Civil War and I figured there was nothing new to add to what’s already been written about that time period.  So, no one was more surprised than I was when I became engrossed in Sam’s story.

Freeman doesn’t get bogged down in a lot of historical facts and details – rather, it’s the story of people who lived through the Civil War and its aftermath.  Don’t get me wrong, it still felt historically accurate to me – it was just more about the people and not the politics of the period.  Full of heart and emotion, it was easy to empathize with the characters as they struggled to make a life for themselves in their changed world.  This book shows how the slaves coped with new found freedom – they had few resources and could barely survive but they longed to be with their families and would do anything to find them.

The point of view alternates between Sam, Tilda, and Prudence and it didn’t take me long to be captivated by their stories.  The characters felt real to me, so I became attached to them and kept hoping things would work out for the best. The story dragged just a little for me in the middle, but it quickly picked up steam again. Overall, this book was a winner for me!  If you enjoy historical fiction and/or the Civil War, you’re sure to enjoy this book.

Everyone in my book club enjoyed Freeman – sometimes that’s a problem when it comes to discussing a book, but it wasn’t in this case.  We couldn’t find any formal discussion questions but we still found plenty to discuss.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2013 6:15 am

    I love it when I end up enjoying a book I thought I wouldn’t. I’m glad this was the case for you!

  2. January 22, 2013 6:57 am

    It’s nice, too, when everyone in a book group is happy that they read the book!

  3. January 22, 2013 6:57 am

    I would have gone into this one with a “bad attitude” as well, as it isn’t my type of book. But wow, I am so happy to hear that you were surprised. Sometimes it is good to move outside of our comfort zone.

  4. Beth F permalink
    January 22, 2013 7:52 am

    This sounds like something I would like because I really do like reading books that take place around the Civil War period.

  5. January 22, 2013 8:05 am

    Oh, it’s tough when the book club chooses a “big book, small print” but I’m glad this one came through for you all. I have yet to really delve into the post-Civil War period in my reading.

  6. bookingmama permalink
    January 22, 2013 10:42 am

    Great review. That time period is one of my favorites as well. Glad you ended up liking it.

  7. January 22, 2013 11:24 am

    I read this book last fall. I thought it was one the best books I read in 2012.I hope you will give it a try.

  8. Beth Hoffman permalink
    January 22, 2013 11:28 am

    II know what you mean! It’s a nice surprise to open a book with some trepidation and discover a story that really works.

  9. January 22, 2013 11:28 am

    I’ve read a couple of books from the Civil War time period, and decided to try to steer clear of them. This one does sound good though. Thanks for the review Kathy!

  10. January 22, 2013 11:32 am

    Thanks for your review. I’ve added this book to my TBR list to possibly suggest to my book club when it is my turn to recommend books..

  11. January 22, 2013 12:04 pm

    I would have had the attitude right along with you…historical, small print, big book…exactly what I tend to avoid. It is such a bonus when you actually enjoy a book like this!

  12. January 22, 2013 1:09 pm

    Glad to hear Freeman exceeded your expectations. I like that it’s more about the character connection and emotions than the historical details. Sounds like an excellent book club choice.

  13. January 22, 2013 1:11 pm

    I’m glad to hear this is good because I love Leonard Pitts!

  14. January 22, 2013 1:33 pm

    When everyone in a bookclub enjoys the same book, that usually means its a good one!

  15. January 22, 2013 2:21 pm

    I am so glad it turned out this way for you!

  16. zibilee permalink
    January 22, 2013 3:08 pm

    This is one that I am sure that I would like, based on your description. I don’t tend to get discouraged by great big historical fiction books, and I haven’t read a lot on the Civil War or the time period afterwards. Very nice review today, Kathy! I am so glad that you ended up loving this one!!

  17. January 22, 2013 5:10 pm

    There’s nothing better than loving a book you thought you wouldn’t like much!

  18. January 22, 2013 7:31 pm

    Thats great that you wound up enjoying it, it sounds interesting. A big book with small print can scare me…lol…but sometimes they are worth it.

  19. January 22, 2013 8:05 pm

    Freeman sounds wonderful! I’m glad it exceeded your expectations, and that your book club enjoyed reading and discussing it.

  20. January 22, 2013 8:13 pm

    It must be good … a big book with small print is a nightmare.

  21. January 22, 2013 9:38 pm

    I love when a book surprises me–and this is really one of the best things about being in a book club, in my opinion.

  22. January 22, 2013 10:14 pm

    :) a big book with small print. This book is already on my TBR. From the looks of your review, I don’t need to remove it.

  23. January 22, 2013 10:41 pm

    The thing about book clubs is that I often feel “forced” to read a book I might not normally read. Then I turn around and discover that I really like it.

  24. January 23, 2013 5:45 am

    I would think this book is quite topical now with Lincoln on the movie circuit. Have you seen it?

  25. January 23, 2013 6:46 pm

    Sounds like one I’d like. I’ll keep it in mind!

  26. January 24, 2013 10:35 am

    Like Jill, I am a huge fan of Leonard Pitts’ column in newspapers. I would have chosen to read this book on that fact alone, but I didn’t even know he had a book out. I will be getting the book ASAP. I love the time period and historical fiction in general.

  27. January 24, 2013 2:38 pm

    This sounds truly wonderful and one that I’m curious about. I like it when it’s more about the human story and not the politics.

  28. January 24, 2013 5:27 pm

    Sounds refreshing! It seems like the market has been over-saturated lately with Civil War era works, and for the most part has been bogged down by the politics. It would be nice to read something that focuses more on the human side of such an important era in our history.

    For some reason, when I first started reading your review Huckleberry Finn popped into my head… curious =)

  29. January 26, 2013 4:59 pm

    I’m not sure I would have picked this one up just based on the description – but your excitement about it makes me think twice.

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