Unbound: A Novel in Verse
But the more Grace sees of the heartless Master and hateful Missus, the more a rightiness voice clamors in her head-asking how come white folks can own other people, sell them on the auction block, and separate families forever. When that voice escapes without warning, it sets off a terrible chain of events that prove Uncle Jim's words true. Suddenly, Grace and her family must flee deep into the woods, where they brave deadly animals, slave patrollers, and the uncertainty of ever finding freedom.
With candor and compassion, Ann E. Burg sheds light on a startling chapter of American history--the remarkable story of runaways who sought sanctuary in the Great Dismal Swamp--and creates a powerful testament to the right of every human to be free.
Beautiful, Moving, Hopeful
When Grace is called up to the Big House to work for the Master and the Missus, she has to leave her family behind. Already prone to voicing her thoughts of “rightiness,” Grace struggles to keep them quiet as she encounters the direct abuse of the Master and Missus. Eventually, she cannot keep her rightiness to herself, and her family are suddenly in danger of being sold at an auction. They must escape into the nearby swamps avoiding both paddyrollers and deadly animals.
Burg’s characters are richly textured, and she gives us a protagonist who is sensitive and strong. Readers will connect with Grace’s fierce sense of justice and love for her family. They will grieve, fear, and hope with Grace as she and her family pursue a freedom fraught with dangers.
Equally memorable, however, are the settings Burg portrays—the slave cabins, the Big House, the Great Dismal Swamp. Her author’s note and acknowledgements confirm the extensive research she did in order to write the book, but her text speaks for itself, and the world she describes feels tragically real.
Burg’s writing is poignant and poetic, and is carried by the voices of her characters. This novel in verse is likely to become a staple in classrooms and libraries across the country. I cannot recommend it highly enough.