Online Reading Challenge – January Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Challenge Readers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in the 1800s that you enjoyed? Share in the comments!

I read our main title: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge.

Libertie follows the life of Libertie Sampson from the time she was a young child to when she is a grown woman. Libertie’s mother is Dr. Sampson, a woman raising her daughter by herself in a free Black community in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn. Dr. Sampson is a practicing physician and has visions of the two working together in the future. She plans for Libertie to go to medical school and then practicing together in their small community. As Libertie grows older however, she strains at the expectations her mother has placed on her. Libertie would rather do something with music over science, but still yearns to live an independent life like her mother. One major issue is Libertie is much darker than her light-skinned mother, who occasionally passes as white. Her future changes when she accepts a young man from Haiti’s marriage proposal. He promises that she will be his equal, but after the two arrive in Cuba, she discovers that is not the case. Libertie has to decide what she is willing to give up and what freedom really means to her.

The imagery in this book was gorgeous. I found myself wishing to transport myself to Haiti with Libertie and to visit Reconstruction-era Brooklyn with her mother. The descriptions of the scenery, the people, and the struggle for freedom pulled at my heart strings as readers watch lives change throughout the course of the novel.

This book is inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the state of New York, Dr. Susan Smith McKinney-Steward, and her daughter. Dr. McKinney-Steward was the third African American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. As I was reading, I found myself wishing that this book focused less on Libertie and more on her mother. I wanted to love this title more than I actually did. The premise lured me in, but instead of focusing on Dr. Sampson, we instead focused on Libertie, who, in my mind, had few redeeming qualities.

I hope you enjoyed traveling to the 1800s with me! Next month, we are heading to the 1900s & 1910s.

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