Rummanah Aasi

Description: The day Grace is called from the slave cabins to work in the Big House, Mama makes her promise to keep her eyes down. Uncle Jim warns her to keep her thoughts tucked private in her mind or they could bring a whole lot of trouble and pain. But the more Grace sees of the heartless Master and hateful Missus, the more a rightness voice clamors in her head-asking how come white folks can own other people, sell them on the auction block, and separate families forever. When that voice escapes without warning, it sets off a terrible chain of events that prove Uncle Jim's words true. Suddenly, Grace and her family must flee deep into the woods, where they brave deadly animals, slave patrollers, and the uncertainty of ever finding freedom.

Review: Unbound is a story in verse that illuminates the horror of slavery without being overly graphic and informs the reader about the real history of the Great Dismal Swamp sanctuary. This book was heartbreaking to read but enlightening and showed the strength and power of hope and familial love in the face of adversity. Grace is a light-skinned, blue-eyed slave who is called to work in "The Big House," leaving behind her family and friends in the fields. Though she promised her Mama to keep her head down and cause no trouble, Grace can not keep quiet and incessantly questions the injustices she observes from the Master and the Missus, which gives her even more motivation to escape. When Grace crosses the line, she discovers the Missus's decision to sell members of Grace's family at the auction block. Soon, Grace and her family flee to the Great Dismal Swamp on their precarious journey to freedom and become "maroons" who survive independent of society. Though some young readers might find the language and format challenging, they will soon appreciate the rhythmic flow of the poetry and the well-executed pacing. I had never heard of the Great Dismal Swamp and the runaways' sanctuary and learned a lot from this book which in the author's note explains is based on the narratives of the formerly enslaved.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are allusions to slaves been beaten and hunted by their slave owners though there are no graphic details mentioned. Grace is also light skinned with blue eyes and her father is believed to be a white slave owner though it is not verified in the book. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Calico Girl by Jerdine Nolen, Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
3 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks very nice blog!

  2. This sounds like a good book and I appreciate that it doesnt’ get too graphic with the details as sometimes it is can be too much for the younger audience.

  3. Verse is popular with teens and I think one sounds very good. I haven't heard of the Dismal Swamp either so I am going to look out for a copy.

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