Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review of 'All Different Kinds of Free', by Jessica McCann

Title: All Different Kinds of Free
Author: Jessica McCann
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: April 2, 2011
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/The Book Depository

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A free woman of color in the 1830s, Margaret Morgan lived a life full of promise. One frigid night in Pennsylvania, that changed forever. They tore her family apart. They put her in chains. They never expected her to fight back.
In 1837, Margaret Morgan was kidnapped from her home in Pennsylvania and sold into slavery. The state of Pennsylvania charged her kidnapper with the crime, but the conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time a major branch of the federal government had made a pro-slavery stand, and the ruling in Prigg v. Pennsylvania sewed the bitter seeds of the states' rights battle that eventually would lead to the Civil War.
Yet, the heart of this story is not a historic Supreme Court ruling. It is the remarkable, unforgettable Margaret Morgan. Her life would never be the same. Her family had been torn apart. Uncaring forces abused her body and her heart. But she refused to give up, refused to stop fighting, refused to allow her soul to be enslaved.


This is the second novel this year that I have read that deals with slavery in the United States. And initially when I downloaded it from Netgalley, I did not realize this story was based on a real person and her battle for her freedom. Finding out that was the case, gave me a different feeling prior to beginning this novel. I guess when you believe that it is a work of fiction, even if slavery was real, there is a weird sense of detachment, though it is still emotional. But knowing that this person actually existed and had to fight so hard for her freedom, losing almost her entire family in the process, made this story so much sadder, and hit so much harder in the heart. Everyone deserves to be born free. We all take it for granted, but there was a time where that was not the case for many people, and I am not so naive to think that it doesn't still exist today in this, or other forms...

This was an incredibly saddening story of a colored woman who had that freedom where so many others did not, and had that freedom cruelly taken from her. Her family was completely torn apart while both her and her husband separately fought the courts to give them back what had been theirs to begin with. The obstacles placed in front of them that made it so difficult to obtain that freedom back was abhorrent. And shameful.

To know that this woman actually suffered so much loss really existed makes this story so much more touching and the crimes committed against her and her family that more cruel and inhumane. Though I don't doubt that every slave in history will have their own story, and share in common cruelties that I don't even like to think of. And I am only thankful that those practices are no longer legal in our continent this day. I hope that one day that will be true for all of the world, and that every man, woman and child will be born free and in charge of their own destinies.

This story was well written with a captivating voice. I would not hesitate to read another of this author's works, though I think I have had enough of these depressing reads for a little while, and more inclined at the moment to pick up a different genre for now. I would definitely recommend this novel to those curious to sample something different and outside their comfort zones. If you are a reader that does enjoy reading stories that deal with these types of issues, then it will not disappoint.

About the Author:
I'm the author of the novel All Different Kinds of Free and a professional freelance writer. My creative nonfiction and reporting have been published in Business Week, Phoenix, Raising Arizona Kids and ASU Research magazines, among others.

Reading and writing historical fiction is my passion, though I'm also drawn to memoirs, contemporary fiction, nonfiction, literary classics -- anything with a compelling story. Visit the Author on her Website/Twitter  

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