Review: A Kind of Freedom
Updated: Sep 23, 2021
A note for my friends and family who follow my blog: These are crazy and scary times. I'm not always going to have something useful or poignant to say about it all (like the short review below, which is just about a book I thought was... ok). But I promise to keep reading (obviously), and to keep sharing my thoughts here, with you, because that is something that feels like normality to me. I've also been having fun reading some of my kids' books to my friends' children over FaceTime this past week. It's fun for them (I hope!), gives the parents a short break, and is a buoy for me as well. If you want me to read to your kids/grandkids reach out and let me know! Or if you need a pick-me-up, maybe you can read to someone. It's great to watch kids' faces when they're fully engrossed in a story. :) Some other things I'm doing to get through this: FaceTime/talk on the phone with someone at least once every day; Printed out a blank map of the USA and am attempting to talk to someone in every state (so far I've been able to color in 5 states); Cooking & baking; Making silly videos with my stuffed animals singing songs (follow me on Facebook to see!); Set up a "home office" space so I can focus when I need to focus; Getting outside for a walk every day; Making art; Watching movies & new-to-me TV shows; Hugging my mom.
A Kind of Freedom, by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (2017)
I like the cover a lot. That often means I'll like a book - I admit it, I totally judge books by their covers. It doesn't always work out.
This book was... fine? I really thought I would (and really wanted to) like it. It is the story of three generations of a Creole family in New Orleans, following three main characters - Evelyn, growing up during WWII, her daughter Jackie, living in the 1980's, and Jackie's son T.C., present day.
From the description, this is the kind of book I'm usually totally into, but this one fell flat. I think the book itself was too short to really adequately dive into each of the three storylines and all the characters in each. As a result, plot lines were dropped... I kept thinking I must not have been paying enough attention and was forgetting things because I'd find myself confused and thinking, "Is this something I'm supposed to know about? Did something happen that would explain this, but I forgot I read it?" In actuality, there were just a lot of things left unfinished.
I feel like the author had lofty goals as far as subject matter - racism, addiction, crime, education, war, the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina... Not only was the story itself too much for one relatively short book, but there was no overarching theme. Wilkerson Sexton tries to do too much, to address too many "big issues," and in the end, doesn't succeed in saying anything profound about any of them. I feel like this book had a lot of potential, it just never quite got there.
Nominated for the 2017 National Book Award
New York Times Notable Book of 2017
New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
UP NEXT: Pax, by Sarah Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen (author of "This Is Not My Hat")