“She gave herself permission to live, as she had given herself permission to live before. There was a kernel of something indestructible inside her, that neither slavery nor grief could shatter.”
“Here was a motherless child, and though Rachel was not a childless mother, there were plenty of holes in her heart where children had been.”
“They had won freedom, but at a price. Slavery had sapped their will to imagine any future other than this one – a life on the edge, on the run, that felt fleeting even long after the villagers had settled in one place.”
Rachel is an enslaved person just “freed” by the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act. She rightly does not trust her master to truly free her so she quickly flees. Her goal is to find her children, torn from her and sold into slavery themselves. She flees across Barbados, British Guiana and Trinidad following their trails and trying to reassemble her family and build a future for them. Along the way she faces the truths of freedom, which swings wildly from the kindness and kinship of strangers to violence, mistrust, racism and heartbreak.
I loved all of these characters so much. Rachel’s hope, Mary Grace’s resilience, Nobody’s kindness… made this a beautiful story. We see what it took to survive, heal, grieve and thrive in many different settings. The strength of a mother’s love was dripping from every page. The discoveries of where each of her children ended up and their stories swing wildly from heartbreaking to hopeful and everything in between. I have not read a post-slavery story like this before and honestly I want more of it or more stories like it.
I think this will end up one of my favorites of the year. It is exactly what I want in historical fiction. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What’s your favorite read of the year so far?