The Other Side of Freedom

 
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Reads like a classic!
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I loved The Other Side of the Freedom - the writing, the story, the close-knit Italian family, and the early 20th century Louisiana strawberry farm setting. Cynthia Toney makes writing look easy with a story that flows smoothly.

Young teen Sal, from whose point of view the story is told, is at the center of an Italian mob's high stakes scheme of running liquor through small Southern towns after Sal's dad and uncle are coerced into abetting them.

The secondary characters - Sal's parents and uncle, his African American friend Hiram and his best friend Antonina - are interesting but remain rather static while Sal is the one who comes of age, deciding what cost he is willing to pay to serve the truth.

This is Young Adult book, but there's nothing here to keep younger children or older teens and adults from enjoying the story as well.
Good Points
Great setting - early 20th century Louisiana strawberry farm
Great characters
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Stellar Historical Fiction
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This stellar novel spotlights the trials of Italian immigrants during the era of Prohibition. I'd heard of Al Capone and nefarious activities going on during the 1920's but never thought about the effects of that criminal activity upon the average family. The details are so richly drawn, I felt as if I'd been transported back in time. The main character, 13 year old Salvatore (Sal) lives on a strawberry farm with his parents and young uncle, and his dilemma twisted my heart. This is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction. (And for a story in which the Mob plays a big role, it's squeaky clean.)
Good Points
The writing is flawless, the characters are realistic, and the situation is heart-breaking!
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Unforgettable Story
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I knew of Toney’s flawless ability to write from a modern teenage girl’s perspective, so was curious when I heard her newest book is set in the 1920’s and told from the point of view of a middle school age boy - Salvatore. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. She effortlessly delved into the mind of a young boy who lived in Louisiana during the tumultuous Prohibition years, weaving together a fascinating tale of hardship, corruption and the importance of family and faith. This intriguing, coming of age story focuses on the difficult choices and decisions one Italian immigrant family must face while desperately trying to keep their family together.
I didn’t know much about this interesting time in our history when Italian/Sicilian gangsters terrorized American communities, but was fascinated by this story and how these crime sprees affected law-abiding families of Italian descent. Besides being a captivating story, this book provides plenty of discussion topics including the repercussions that can arise when trying to do what is right, as well as the issues of: prohibition, segregation and immigration. Bravo to Cynthia T. Toney for creating yet another wonderful, thought-provoking teen novel.
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