Friday, October 1, 2010

Book review: Dear Canada: A Desperate Road to Freedom by Karleen Bradford

Dear Canada: A Desperate Road to Freedom by Karleen Bradford (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2009)

Eleven-year-old Julia May is more fortunate than most slaves in the southern states during the Civil War. As a young girl, her owner assigned her to be the personal slave and companion of his young daughter, Miss Marissa, and so Julia May didn‘t have to endure working in the fields of the plantation. Julia May learned to read and write while listening to Marissa’s lessons. Marissa didn’t care that her slave was educated, and kept Julia May's secret so that Julia May could help her with her schoolwork, and even gave her scraps of paper to practice writing on. Julia May uses these precious pieces of paper to start a diary of her life.

In January 1863, after learning Julia May’s older brother, Thomas, might be sold to another plantation, Julia May’s parents decide the family will escape to freedom. Three of Julia May’s older siblings were already sold, and her mother can’t bear to lose another one of her children. In the dead of winter the family makes a dangerous escape, and takes refuge at a Union Army fort. However, to ensure their freedom no matter what the outcome of the war is, her parents decide they will continue north to Canada, where slavery has been completely outlawed and runaway slaves cannot be returned to their owners. Julia May writes in her diary about her family’s dangerous journey north as well as the first year of their new, free life in Canada as she makes new friends, goes to school for the first time in her life, and worries about her brother Thomas, who has gone back to fight in the war.

This was another good book from the Dear Canada series that should be enjoyed by fans of the series as well as the similar Dear America series. I really enjoyed reading Julia May's diary, she was a likeable character, the historical setting and details were really interesting, and the story kept me interested at all times. Although this book was not one of my most favorite books from the Dear Canada series, I did really enjoy it and I recommend it to all fans of the series.

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