Monday, October 5, 2020

Freedom Lessons by Eileen Harrison Sanchez (Review and Giveaway!)

Freedom Lessons by debut author Eileen Harrison Sanchez is an enlightening and timely read. Don't you just love that book cover? It's nostalgic and iconic. Enter for a chance to win a copy!

Book Details:

Book Title: Freedom Lessons by Eileen Harrison Sanchez
Category: Adult Fiction, 245 pages
Genre: American Historical Fiction
Publisher: She Writes Press
Release date: November 2019
Tour dates: Sep 28 to Oct 9, 2020
Content Rating: PG. This book is a clean read. The use of the words Negro, colored and a one time reference use of nigger, though not politically correct by today's standards, is era specific and not intended in any kind of pejorative sense.

Book Description:

Told alternately, by Colleen, an idealistic young white teacher; Frank, a black high school football player; and Evelyn, an experienced black teacher, Freedom Lessons is the story of how the lives of these three very different people intersect in a rural Louisiana town in 1969.

Colleen enters into the culture of the rural Louisiana town with little knowledge of the customs and practices. She is compelled to take sides after the school is integrated―an overnight event for which the town’s residents are unprepared, and which leads to confusion and anxiety in the community―and her values are tested as she seeks to understand her black colleagues, particularly Evelyn. Why doesn’t she want to integrate the public schools? Frank, meanwhile, is determined to protect his mother and siblings after his father’s suspicious death―which means keeping a secret from everyone around him.

Based on the author’s experience teaching in Louisiana in the late sixties, this heartfelt, unflinching novel about the unexpected effects of school integration during that time takes on the issues our nation currently faces regarding race, unity, and identity.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The aptly titled Freedom Lessons by debut author Eileen Harrison Sanchez is an enlightening and timely read. Don't you just love that book cover? It's nostalgic and iconic. The novel takes place within the span of one school year from the summer of 1969 to that of 1970 in rural Louisiana. It is told from the point-of-view of three characters: Colleen who is a young teacher from New Jersey, newly married to a Cuban man who is in the army; Evelyn, an experienced schoolteacher, who is assigned to be Colleen's mentor when Colleen gets hired to work at the black segregated school; and Frank, a black high school football player who is aiming to get a scholarship, and who has been hiding a secret since his father's death.

The lives of all three intersect during this memorable school year when, overnight, they are forced to move out of their black school, which is promptly closed, to be integrated into a white school with no preparation or input on their part. This badly organized desegregation of the schools is a part of black history that I was unaware of. The unfair treatment of the integrated black children was totally unjust but unsurprising. White supremacy ruled in all aspects of black people's lives.

I enjoyed this novel but wished it had been longer. I liked all three characters, and I particularly liked Frank's story and felt it was cut short once he disclosed his secret. What happens afterwards? Was justice served? If yes, how? The author had set up the foundation for this story quite well and I would have liked for more! The buildup of racial tension was right there from the very beginning, only to plateau at the end without the climax I was expecting.

Fans of historical fiction, Southern fiction, and #blacklivesmatter subjects will enjoy this window in time to a tumultuous year in history. Perfect for a quick read to learn a part of black history in the South.

Buy the Book:
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About the Author:

Eileen Harrison Sanchez is now retired after a forty-year career in education. She started as a teacher and ended as a district administrator. She has been writing part time for seven years with a writers group in Summit, NJ. Eileen is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Philadelphia Stories Writers Community, Goodreads American Historical Novels Group, and several online writers’ groups. A reader, a writer, and a perennial—a person with a no-age mindset—she considers family and friends to be the most important parts of her life, followed by traveling and bird watching from her gazebo.

Connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Oct 16, 2020

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  1. i can't imagine what they went through. i don't understand why we can't all get along. we all have the same thoughts, feeling and dreams.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. This historical sounds captivating and fascinating. What a great treasure. Many thanks for your feature and giveaway.

  3. Laura, thank you for hosting FREEDOM LESSONS on your blog, for sharing and recommending it to your followers and for your thoughtful review. I appreciate your comments on the resolution to Frank’s story. Someday soon I’ll write an essay on why I chose to end it the way I did. Again, I truly appreciate the opportunity to meet new readers and to share this personal period of US history.

    1. Thank you so much Eileen for stopping by! It was my pleasure to host your book on my blog.


Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

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