- Young Adult Fiction
- Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, the Gallows, and the Black General Gabriel
Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, the Gallows, and the Black General Gabriel
In a time of post-Revolutionary fervor in Richmond, Virginia, an imposing twenty-four-year-old slave named Gabriel, known for his courage and intellect, plotted a rebellion involving thousands of African- American freedom seekers armed with refashioned pitchforks and other implements of Gabriel’s blacksmith trade. The revolt would be thwarted by a confluence of fierce weather and human betrayal, but Gabriel retained his dignity to the end. History knows little of Gabriel’s early life. But here, author Gigi Amateau imagines a childhood shaped by a mother’s devotion, a father’s passion for liberation, and a friendship with a white master’s son who later proved cowardly and cruel. She gives vibrant life to Gabriel’s love for his wife-to-be, Nanny, a slave woman whose freedom he worked tirelessly, and futilely, to buy. Interwoven with original documents, this poignant, illuminating novel gives a personal face to a remarkable moment in history.
The story begins quite beautifully, where we meet Gabriel as a nursing infant in quiet, intimate communion with his mother. The writing pulled me down into history, so that I was present at their tobacco plantation, in the heat, participating in their joyous few moments of 'freedom' and worship and dance, and involved in the various family dramas and power struggles displayed between the Master's family and different servants. I watched as Gabriel took after his freedom-fighting father and grew into a man who knew his worth and knew he, and all his friends and family, deserved to be free. I felt the deep longings and tinges of desire when he fell in love and his desperation for freedom began to take on an even deeper meaning and purpose. My heart fell as his dream fell apart before him, although I knew that the dream lived on not only in his wife and children, but in so many who came after him--though I knew the dream came to fruition almost a century later.
This story is not just a fantastic novel but an incredible historical work. It would do those studying this period of history in school just as much good as it did me, a college graduate. Because as you read it, it is as if you are reaching through time and space to grasp Gabriel's hand or look into his eyes and say, "I believe in you. I am with you." A must-read.