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Libertie - Review


*I received this e-ARC from Algonquin Books. All reviews are my own.*


I was recently chosen to review Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge for a book tour the publishers were putting together, and I was ecstatic. I must be doing something right if publishers are reaching out, yes? Welp, I'm probably going to be pissing off my first connection because I ultimately had to DNF this book.



"Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, who can pass, Libertie has skin that is too dark.
When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come."

I didn't want to abandon the book, I swear! It was one of the stories I was looking forward to reading. A semi-true tale about the first Black woman doctor and her daughter during the reconstruction age in Brooklyn is right up my alley in Historical Fiction. It sounded promising. But as I tried to get into the book, it felt like I wasn't reading what was advertised.


The thing that bothered me the most about the story is aging. For a synopsis to highlight a girl trying to get away from an expectant medical career by marrying someone from the islands, I would assume that this girl is older than an adolescent. I understand building a backstory to get to where we are mentally with Libertie, but I feel this portion could have been a quick wrap-up.


I do like the breakdown process of Libertie adoring her magical healing mother to despising her methods and motivations. We see how a watchful kid slowly starts to form her own opinion about the people surrounding her, specifically her mother. She doesn't quite understand everything, but she disagrees with the decisions from what she sees. I remember hearing something to the effect of, "you can be a stay-at-home mom who bakes fresh cookies every day, and a toddler would love you for it. A teenager will hate you".


I don't have much else to say about the book, as I'm only 36% in before DNFing. Eventually, I'm going to circle back to it because I genuinely hate leaving things incomplete. Other than the grammatical errors of the unfinished copy and the random sentences in a different language (I still don't even know what language it is), the story was okay. I recognize that the author is building towards something; I just couldn't get there with her.



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