This February I am embarking on a four book challenge in honor of Black History Month. The first novel, Freeman, tackles the plight of the American Negro in the aftermath of the civil war.
Told in three story lines that later converge, Pitts addresses all sorts of issues. The characters Sam and Ben, are former slaves that were separated from their wives and now seek them out. These are men who lived in the north and now must travel south to find family members they have not seen in many years. Of course, these poor fellows find that much has happened with the passage of time and things are not always as they’d hoped.
The second story line is of an abolitionist women who heads to Mississippi in order to set up a school for the freed slaves. As she soon learns, the white southerners were not any more keen to have blacks educated after slavery than they were before. Another good point Pitts makes is among the conversations of the former slaves. How is their life different now? If they are treated just as poorly and they cannot go anywhere else due to monetary necessity (or even by threat), what has changed for them?
Lastly, we hear of a black woman who is so beaten down, she cannot bring herself to leave her abusive white master. This story becomes a tale of white southerners who refuse to accept their defeat or the end of slavery.
Pitts makes a lot of good points in this very compelling novel. It was engaging from start to finish. My only complaint was there were times when I felt the characters were not true to the time period. In my opinion, Pitts placed late 20th century people in this book. Otherwise, it was a good read.
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2012