Salt Spring Reads is an online blend of book review and book club sharing the stories of books with Salt Spring Island roots, and to discuss them with the community.
My first choice for this new feature is a book labeled YA (Young Adult) but really is a book anyone here would enjoy, regardless of age. Of course, the book is available in local bookstores and the library.
The Freedom of Jenny by Julie Burtinshaw
When I first read this book, I was enthralled. Not only by the well written story of an African American family who buy their own freedom and travel west on the pioneer trail. But specifically by the fact that Jenny ultimately settles right here on Salt Spring Island.
Jenny Estes shares her father’s dream of freedom. But for Jenny, who was born into slavery in Missouri in the 1840’s, freedom seems an impossible dream. She toils alongside her mother in the steaming kitchen of the Leopold plantation, trying her best to be humble and obedient so that Mrs. Leopold won’t sell her to a slave-trader. But when she’s not drying dishes or mixing biscuits, Jenny finds time to practice her reading, a skill that ultimately helps the family plan their migration and realize their dream.
The Estes family faces a formidable journey: a grueling passage from Missouri to Salt Spring Island, Canada. Along the way, Jenny’s family faces scarlet fever, racial persecution, the arduous Oregon Trail, warring native Haidas, and finally, the challenges of homesteading. Jenny’s spirit and fortitude in the face of many adversities make her a heroine all young readers can look up to.
Based on the true history of the Stark family, this is realistic, historical fiction and the gripping account of one young girl’s coming-of-age in troubling and unsettling times.
Margriet Ruurs is a Salt Spring author with over 30 books published. Her latest title is A Brush Full of Colour, The World of Ted Harrison. Margriet’s books are available in local bookstores.
Have you read this book? Check it out from the Library. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments on this post.
Raincoast, ISBN 1551928396