Thursday, October 8, 2020

Freedom Lessons Book Review & Book Tour Giveaway

I enjoy historical fiction and recently had the opportunity to read and review Freedom Lessons by Eileen Harrison Sanchez.  What did I think of Freedom Lessons?  Read my thoughts, learn about the book and the author & enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.

Book TitleFreedom Lessons (a novel) by Eileen Harrison Sanchez
CategoryAdult Fiction (18+) ,  245 pages
Genre: American Historical Fiction
Publisher:  She Writes Press
Release date:   November 2019

Chosen as a 2020 Pulpwood Queens Book Club pick
2019 Best Book Awards Finalist in Fiction (Multicultural)

“This powerful tale offers a beacon of hope that individuals can inspire change.”
Library Journal

Many of our posts contain affiliate links.
Should you purchase an item via our links--we may receive slight compensation from an
affiliate partner.

About the Book

Freedom Lessons begins in Louisiana 1969 as Colleen, a white northern teacher, enters into the unfamiliar culture of a small Southern town and its unwritten rules as the town surrenders to mandated school integration. She meets Frank, a black high school football player, who is protecting his family with a secret. And Evelyn, an experienced teacher and prominent member of the local black community, who must decide whether she’s willing to place trust in her new white colleague. Told alternately by Colleen, Frank, and Evelyn, Freedom Lessons is the story of how the lives of these three purportedly different people intersect in a time when our nation faced, as it does today, a crisis of race, unity, and identity.

School desegregation is something we all learn about in history class; perhaps we even remember the striking image of Ruby Bridges being escorted to and from school by the U.S. Marshals. But for most of us in 2019, that’s near the extent of what we understand about that tumultuous time. Eileen Sanchez, the debut novelist behind Freedom Lessons (She Writes Press, November 12, 2019), draws on her own remarkable experience as a young, white teacher in the Jim Crow South during desegregation, to write her immersive work of fiction inspired by those events. The result is an unusually authentic exploration of a snapshot in history through the eyes of characters that are relatable and unmistakably human—living lives and navigating relationships against the backdrop of extreme societal upheaval. Sanchez has woven a beautiful story not just about desegregation as an abstract concept, but about the people who lived it—and asks us to question our assumptions about that time, and the issues it has left in its 50-year wake. 
My Review

Historical Fiction with a Realistic Memoir Feel.  I have read historical accounts and fictionalized stories set in the days of desegregation--but, none quite like this one.  As I read this novel, I was immediately pulled into Coleen's world and the lives of those around her.  It was apparent that the author was telling the story from her personal experiences and memories of the unrest and challenges of the time.  The book felt very real as I read the accounts from the main characters and watched their stories grow.  I love the emotions and personal depth of memoirs--and the author did a wonderful job bringing that depth to Colleen's story.
The Writing Style Brought Different Perspectives to the Story.  Initially, it took a bit for me to separate the three storylines in my mind.  Colleen's voice was so strong and real that it took several chapters of the other perspectives for me to connect with them as strongly and individually as I did with Colleen.  Having said that--sharing those three very different perspectives creates a much different story from the time than most of us, who didn't live through it, have read.  They each faced the times from different backgrounds--and the effects of the world around them varied for each.  
Would I Recommend Freedom Lessons by Eileen Harrison Sanchez?  This book takes a very realistic view of a difficult time from a variety of angles.  Memoir fans will attach themselves to the author's fictionalized story and historical fiction fans will enjoy learning about the time from different perspectives and voices.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in reading more than a history book look at racism and the realities of desegregation.  

Buy the Book
Meet the Author

Eileen Harrison Sanchez is now retired after a forty-year career in education. She started as a teacher and ended as a district administrator. She has been writing part time for seven years with a writers group in Summit, NJ. Eileen is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Philadelphia Stories Writers Community, Goodreads American Historical Novels Group, and several online writers’ groups. A reader, a writer, and a perennial—a person with a no-age mindset—she considers family and friends to be the most important parts of her life, followed by traveling and bird watching from her gazebo.

connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ instagram

Follow the Book Tour

Sep 28 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
Sep 28 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway



1 comment:

  1. Angela, thank you for hosting FREEDOM LESSONS on your blog and for sharing your review with your followers. It was challenging to put the story into a genre. I’m grateful for the way you distinguished the most obvious- memoir and historical fiction. When I realized that I was a witness to history in such a unique circumstance I was compelled to write it. That’s when I felt it needed a fuller point of view perspective and Frank and Evelyn’s stories emerged from research and personal interviews. Sincerely, Eileen Harrison Sanchez