May 24, 2017

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Pick of the Day: Come August, Come Freedom (Audio)

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Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, the Gallows, and the Black General Gabriel. By Gigi Amateau. 5 CDs. 5:04 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2012. ISBN 978-1-4692-0528-8. $54.97.
Gr 7 Up–JD Jackson brings to life Amateau’s historical novel (Candlewick, 2012) set in Colonial Virginia prior to the Civil War with passion and a deep, emotional, and fully voiced performance that perfectly matches each turn of events. With almost poetic pacing, Jackson becomes Gabriel, a slave who has been educated alongside the slave master’s son, but harshly and bitterly faces the wretched reality when he is removed from his mother’s care and sent to Richmond. As he learns his trade as a blacksmith, he becomes inspired and, always believing he was meant to live free, works toward earning enough money to buy his freedom. As Gabriel ultimately becomes the leader in a planned slave rebellion, listeners are drawn into each heartbreaking and painful scene. Peppered with news articles, legal proclamations, and historical news accounts, Jackson effectively alters his voice so it’s clear that the focus has shifted. There are scenes that are alternately quiet, loving, hateful, and intense, and Jackson portrays each with ease. Listeners’ perceptions will be changed and they will be haunted at the book’s conclusion, and left pondering one of the darkest and most disturbing times in history. This fictionalized biography of a rebel leader would be a fantastic supplement to classroom studies of the time period.–Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY

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