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I requested this ARC on netgalley when I saw the author’s Muslim-sounding name (my daughters name actually😊!). I don’t really know if the author is Muslim or not, and tbh, I don’t really mind either way. This book was so amazingly written, POWERFUL, and educating that I am so glad I read it and I think its a genuine must-have for everyone!!!

Genre: Upper MG Historical Fiction

Ages: 11/12-15

Available: Amazon (preorder before the Feb 1 release date)

Islamic Screening: slight allusion to the Master being the rapist of the mother. Crushes. Prayers and Thanks given to nature/tree/swamp a few times. Abuse/beating/lashes. Music/instruments, eating pig. Allusion to drugs in form of poppy flower and a purposeful drugging as part of an escape plan. (There is no specific faith actually mentioned in the book, and I found it pretty appropriately written for the recommended age)

In the swamps of the American south, theres a small hidden community where slaves are free. Homer and his sister Ada are running from the plantation with their mom when they stumble upon someone who takes them to this place: FreeWater. However, one problem: Homer’s mother is caught and taken back to the plantation, and its all “Homer’s fault”. At Freewater, Homer meets Sanzi, Billy, Ferdinand, and Juna (who all have their own stories and chapters). When Homer decides to go back for his mother and best friend Ana, his friends go with him. And at the plantation, these brave children face all their fears…(I won’t spoil it because honestly it was so well written and the reader must experience it on their own.)

I feel like this book needs to be required reading for upper elementary and middle school students. Not only does it paint the picture of the injustice of slavery in the history of the American South and how it broke families, but it also showcases the resistance and strength of Black Americans. The free swamp community of FreeWater is actually based on a truth of real historical free communities at the time and the author’s note at the end explains this well.

Honestly, this story is an inspiration and educating, and it was truly written masterfully.

A must have!

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