The Freedom Maze


Thirteen-year-old Sophie wants an escape from her parents’ divorce, her father’s impending remarriage, and her mother’s new job, but not if it means being stuck spending the summer of 1960 with her aunt and overbearing grandmother in the old family home in the bayou of southern Louisiana. She protests their attempts to make her a proper Southern lady, wishing they’d just leave her alone to wander the ramshackle estate—an old sugar plantation—and read the adventure books she loves. When a strange creature appears in the house’s overgrown maze and offers her a wish, she impulsively asks for an adventure of her own. Being whisked away to 1860 and being mistaken by her own ancestors for a slave is not the sort of adventure Sophie anticipated.

Through Sophie, shuttled from one task to another on the plantation, months away from her own home and time, we see the work done by slaves in the house, the yard, the field, and the sugarhouse. We feel their worries and their dreams as sharply as if we were there. Sophie is a keen and sympathetic observer and is immersed in the history in a way not often seen in time-slip novels. Her journey is aided by Delia Sherman’s rich prose, under which the plantation comes alive.

The lessons Sophie learns to carry back to her privileged life in the still-segregated South of the 1960s never feel heavy-handed. They are not only lessons on race, but also on respect and empathy, on self-reliance, on firm independence. Freedoms can be as big as a slave escaping for a better life or as small as a thirteen-year-old girl learning the confidence to take charge of her own life.

Jessica Brockmole

This book is about a teenager named Sophie who meets a wish-granting creature in Oak River, Louisiana. So Sophie can get away from her demanding mother, she wishes that she could go back in time and have a grand adventure. When the creature grants Sophie’s wish, she is taken back to the 1860s. There she is mistaken for a slave and her perspective of the world changes.

This book was not one of my favorites. I thought so because it was kind of dull and boring in parts. There were good adjectives to describe the setting, but there were too many. I wish this book had more action and reality. I think you would like this book if you were interested in learning about the slave conditions.

Ellen Brockmole, age 10

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(US) $6.99

(US) 076366975X