Unbound. This is a book that you read in one sitting. And then you start over because you don’t want it to end.
First, I discovered Ann Burg thanks to a teacher who was working on a unit for the novel in verse All the Broken Pieces. Immediately I knew that I needed to read this book, so I requested it from the library and waited patiently. As soon as I read it, I knew that I had discovered a special book. A quick web search revealed that Ann Burg has an upcoming novel, Unbound, to be published in September 2016. Thanks to her publisher, I was able to read an ARC.
Unbound is the story of Grace, a slave living in the South, yearning for the magical “freedom” she has heard about through stories and whispers. Grace is selected by the Master to move to the “big house.” Grace is heartbroken at the prospect of moving away from her mother and family. Her mother and Uncle Jim warn her to be obedient in her new position, keep her eyes down, and keep her thoughts private. The Master’s wife is known to be harsh and cruel, and Grace finds a great deal of pain in the lives of the slaves at the big house. Whippings and beatings are common for those who speak out. Slaves attempt to run away. Grace finds it difficult to say nothing when she witnesses unjustices at the hands of the slave owners. She wonders how it can be okay for someone to own another person, to force them to work, hurt them, and sell them. When Grace does say something out loud, her words spark events beyond her control and soon, Grace and her family are fleeing into the Great Dismal Swamp, hoping for freedom and safety. Ann Burg’s story illuminates a little known piece of history – the story of slaves who found a place to live in freedom inside the Great Swamp.
Grace’s story is told with compassion and grace. Ann Burg’s language is striking, powerful, and unflinching. This story gives voice to the power of the human spirit, the strength found in community, and the importance of freedom for all families. A beautiful, important book for young readers and adults.
*Unbound by Ann Burg will be released September 26, 2016. Mark your calendars!