Thursday, 8 October 2020

Freedom Lessons by Eileen Harrison Sanchez + #Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Sept 28 to Oct 9, 2020!

Book Details:

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
Content Rating:  PG. This book is a clean read. The use of the words Negro, colored and a one time reference use of nigger, though not politically correct by today's standards, is era specific and not intended in any kind of pejorative sense.

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

Book Description:

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. 

Freedom Lessons is a quiet gem of a novel which I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read thanks to this iRead Book Tours blog tour. Narrated in turn by three residents of a small 1960s Louisiana town, Freedom Lessons, by focusing through this small personal lens manages, I think, to authentically portray the intense upheaval across great swathes of America at this time and the antagonisation that has, sadly, continued through the following decades.

I understand that this book was initially envisaged as a memoir and, in its final incarnation, the character of idealistic new teacher Colleen is based on author Eileen's own experiences. Despite the years that have passed, I felt her recounting of events and the people's reactions to them retains a such a freshness that I easily became immersed in this story. Evelyn is a strong character too. Her views of the forced school integration being informed by local history and knowledge allowed me to understand how the way in which the law was (finally) enacted made no sense and was instead yet one more way for white Louisiana to oppress and denigrate the black population. I was horrified (although not surprised) at things like the black kids' football team automatically being considered second-rate to the white team, and that the teams were kept strictly segregated. That this effectively prevented black footballers from representing 'their' school was intentionally cruel.

There are numerous such instances of cruelty and spite throughout Freedom Lessons, however, other than one sensitively handled fire scene, nothing is graphically violent so I feel that the book would still be highly suitable for young adult audiences as well as adults, and I think it would be particularly beneficial for white readers. Following Colleen's journey gave me insights into institutional racism that wouldn't necessarily make headlines, but its daily accumulation was so damaging to young minds, both black and white. 

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

Tour Schedule:

Sep 28 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
Sep 28 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Sep 29 – All Booked Up Reviews – book review
Sep 29 - Pen Possessed – book review
Sep 30 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Sep 30 - Rajiv's Reviews – book review
Oct 1 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 2 – eBook addicts – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 5 – Book World Reviews – book review  
Oct 5 - Momfluenster - book review / giveaway
Oct 5 - Jackie's Book Reviews - book review
Oct 5 - Hall Ways Blog - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 6 – Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway
Oct 6 - Books and Zebras – book review
Oct 7 – My Fictional Oasis – book review
Oct 7 - She Just Loves Books – book review / giveaway
Oct 8 – Literary Flits – book review / giveaway
Oct 8 - Divas With A Purpose - book review / author interview
Oct 9 – On My Bookshelf – book review / author interview / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:
Win an autographed copy of FREEDOM LESSONS or a $15 Amazon Gift Card (2 winners) (USA only) (ends Oct 16)

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Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Eileen Harrison Sanchez / Historical fiction / Books from America

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting FREEDOM LESSONS on your blog and for sharing your thoughtful review with your followers. I’m pleased that you appreciate the message. Laws are necessary to protect our civil rights but laws don’t change opinions, people do. If I could sign your book I’d write “Be the change you want to see.”