Freedom Soldiers

Hard Ball. Jun. 2019. 307p. Tr $15. ISBN 9781732808850.
Gr 9 Up–Harriet Roberson aspires to become a courier to rescue fugitive slaves from the American South to free Black settlements in Canada via the Underground Railroad. She escaped from slavery with her mother, Abiah, across the frozen Ohio River in Virginia years before and comes of age on the Elgin Settlement in the Buxton community of Ontario. Harriet secretly yearns for her father, Jacob, to miraculously reunite with her and Abiah, though she is unaware of his whereabouts. Harriet develops into a young woman hungry for freedom, education, and equality. She falls in love with Thaddeus Childs, a dedicated courier traumatized by painful memories of enslavement who agonizes over having left his family behind in the North Carolina Great Dismal Swamp community. Despite the Fugitive Slave Act threatening their lives, Harriet and Thaddeus bond together to fight and destroy slavery. Williams has crafted a smart YA novel that presents the stories of Black people liberating themselves from slavery through grassroots community networks. Readers will enjoy the juxtaposition of the accounts of the settlers and their descendants in the United States and Canada. Williams brings alive lesser-known African American and African Canadian historical figures of the Underground Railroad.
VERDICT This is an intelligent pick for readers who are looking for stories depicting enslaved, fugitive, and free Black people as change agents for their liberation during slavery in the African diaspora

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