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All Different Kinds of Free

Reviewed by Brittney

Just the Facts: by Jessica McCann. 274 p. Published April 2011 by Bell Bridge Books. Advanced review copy provided in electronic format courtesy of the publisher, through NetGalley.

Verdict: ★★★★

Who Cares? Adult / Historical Fiction

Short Bio: Jessica McCann weaves the untold story of Margaret Morgan and her family – a free black woman who, with her children, was abducted in Pennsylvania by a bounty hunter from Maryland – with the famous Supreme Court case that resulted from her kidnapping.  Prigg v Pennsylvania became a case which highlighted the growing tension between the Northern and Southern states about the issues of states rights regarding slavery.  This book focuses on Margaret’s story – the incredible injustice offered her and how she fought for her family and her freedom. 

Eyewitness Account: I cannot for the life of me remember this particular court case from either my high school history and government classes, nor my college constitutional law class – so the events of the case, the Supreme Court verdict, and Margaret’s fate all kept me turning the pages of this horrific, yet inspiring story.  Although it is at times a little difficult to keep track of the secondary characters, McCann brings Margaret to life in such a vivid way that I couldn’t help but relate to both the tragedies and triumphs she experienced.  The author’s note at the back makes it clear that the details of  Margaret’s story are sparse, so her personal account is mostly fictionalized.  Given that, it was obviously true to the times and more than plausible – McCann definitely did her research!  I highly recommend this story for anyone interested in the pre-Civil War era, abolition, and stories of individuals who fought for their families and freedom. 

Note: Although I’d rate the age-level of readability for this book at 5th/6th grade, the content is definitely NC-17.

Notable Quotes:

“Oh, I know the place probably don’t seem like much of anything to the average passerby, not that we get many of those way out here.  But our tiny home is so much more than its four ramshackle walls and lopsided roof would have you believe.  Inside, it’s big, full of love.  It’s a hospital where my babies can be born.  It’s a schoolhouse where my children can learn.  It’s a mansion where my husband and I can enjoy the riches of our life together.”

“Living my whole life in freedom in Mill Green and then in York, I often marveled at how there can be all different kinds of free.  And yet, after hearing news of Mrs. Ashmore’s recent kindness to you and after living here at the plantation, I suppose now I’ve learned there are all different kinds of bondage, too.”

Other Books Read by This Author: None.

What are other people saying? Write For Me, Reads4Pleasure, Uniflame Creates

Rating:

★★★★ Plot Development

★★★☆☆ Characterization

★★★★★ Writing Style

★★★★ Original Idea

★★★★★ Page Turner

Overall ★★★★

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