I have decided to try blogging about books in a slightly different way than in the past, primarily because I seem to have trouble blogging in a timely manner after I finish a book! So I am going to try blogging at the end of the month about books I have read that month. There will be exceptions...like this post. When I read an exceptional book, I will give that book it's own post! And that is true of Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr., a post-civil-war novel.
This is the story of Sam Freeman, a run-away slave, who ended up in Philadelphia where he worked for years at a library. Sam had learned to read from his mistress when he was her slave in Mississippi. When he ran away, he left his wife there with the intention of buying her back. While he worked to earn money, the War broke out and that delayed his plan. Fifteen years after leaving Mississippi, the Civil War had ended and Sam decided to set out by foot to walk from Philadelphia to Mississippi to find his wife.
The book alternates between Sam's story, his wife Tilda's story, and Prudence, a strong-willed, widowed, privileged young woman from Boston who was against slavery. Prudence and her "sister" Bonnie left Boston following the War to open up a school for the former slaves living in Buford, Mississippi.
Tilda had been sold off when times got so bad that her mistress had to sell her. She was sold to an abusive slaveholder. When the War ended, her master decided to leave his burned out farm and travel to where his beliefs in slavery would be
upheld. He took his remaining three slaves with him, including Tilda, and they began walking west.
Prudence faced enormous resistance to opening a school for blacks in Mississippi and she paid dearly for her efforts.
This is a stunning story about the aftermath of the Civil War, as families tried to reunite and others tried to bring true freedom to those who had been slaves. Pitts is a wonderful writer (2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for his column). The book was a great read.