Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – The Freedom Maze

This week for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday I’m looking at The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman. While this isn’t a classic from my youth it might as well be. The cover even makes it look like a vintage book, and the premise – a 1960s girl pulled back in time to the 1860s – gives it a setting similar to many of the books I read when I was a middle grader.

But this book has a contemporary edge to it, and this comes from the very clever and subtle rhetoric about race, identity and privilege.

Sophie a “white” thirteen year-old wishes for adventure and is whisked back 100 years to the same Louisiana plantation her family still owns. But Sophie, tanned with dark frizzy hair, is taken for a slave and absorbed into the daily life of the sugar plantation . At first she’s affronted to be so treated, but soon learns about slave life, her family and the important role she has to play if she ever wants to get back to her own time.

This was a strange read for me. I didn’t zip through it as I often do with books, but it got under my skin. The writing and story-telling is so precise that I felt I was being carefully led through a series of questions and feelings. It feels like a book for young readers, certainly appropriate for nine and up, (though there are some subtle sexual references) but for older readers it provides plenty to think about.

The Freedom Maze is 71,000 words and has a reading level of about grade five.

For this week’s I can’t wait to read I’m going with Dark Lord: The Early Years by Jamie Thomson. Here’s the blurb:

Could it be that Dirk Lloyd is really a human incarnation of the Dark Lord who, after a cataclysmic final battle with his arch nemesis, was hurled into the Pit of Uttermost Despair, aka Earth? Or is he just a lost and confused boy? The Dark Lord must regain his rightful place in the universe before his powers of domination and destruction are lost forever, and he’s shocked to find help comes from a most unlikely source…a human friend.

I mean come on. Dirk Lloyd? This sounds completely brilliant and I love love LOVE the cover. The Dark Lord: The Early Years comes out  October 2nd 2012.

Here are some other MMGM blogs for your reading pleasure:

6 thoughts on “Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – The Freedom Maze

  1. the premise here is definitely unique — and that cover has such a fab vintage quality. reminds me of books from my youth, too 🙂

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