Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs

Written by Mary E. Lyons
Review by Nancy Castaldo

Through compelling letters to relatives and friends, Mary Lyons tells the story of Harriet Jacobs, a slave girl in the early 1800s. Harriet is a young girl at the start of the book, wishing and hoping for freedom as her mistress lies dying and promises to free her. The promise goes unfulfilled, and Harriet finds herself with new owners and new hardships. Lyons poignantly reveals the struggles of a slave girl and her journey to a free life in letters written in a southern black dialect and spelling patterns of a self-taught girl. Readers might just feel as if they’ve stumbled upon a journal in their attic, revealing a treasure left long ago. At the end of the book Lyons finishes Harriet’s story after she reaches her freedom. Photographs, bibliography, and a glossary further bring Harriet’s actual story to life. Ages 9-12.