February 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: The Freedom Maze (Audiobook)

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

Audiobook cover: illustration of girl in garden mazeThe Freedom Maze. By Delia Sherman. 8 CDs. 8:19 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 978-0-499-01463-9. $55.
Gr 5-8–Sophie’s mother drops her off to spend the summer at her grandmother’s house in the Louisiana Bayou. Once a prolific sugar plantation, the property is derelict and overgrown. In the garden, Sophie discovers a maze, now in ruins, much like Sophie’s life since her parents’ divorce. It’s 1960, and the stigma of the divorce, combined with her parents’ self-centered and erratic behavior, has shaken Sophie to the core. When an impish creature appears and grants Sophie’s wish for family and adventure, she is whirled 100 years into the past. Mistaken for a slave, Sophie is drawn into a life where she must fight for respect, human compassion, and the minimal “rights” she is allowed. Sherman’s novel (Big Mouth, 2011) looks at the issues of racial identity and stereotypes through the lens of the 1860’s and 1960’s, causing listeners to reflect on the same issues today. She delivers a classic fantasy reminiscent of the magical tales Sophie loves to read. This marvelous story is narrated by Robin Miles who brings a distinct and memorable voice to each character, adroitly handling a wide range of dialects and voices, all of which ring true to the setting and era. A feisty heroine, mystical creature, and time travel, masterfully combined with a rich historical context and deep social and political statements, create a compelling story that will stay with listeners.–Lisa Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH