Eliza’s Freedom Road
written by Jerdine Nolen
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2011
It is 1852 in Alexandria, Virginia. Eliza’s mother has been sent away and it is Abbey, the cook, who looks after Eliza, when Eliza isn’t taking care of the Mistress. Eliza has the quilt her mother left her and the memory of the stories she told to keep her close. When her Mistress’s health begins to fail and Eliza overhears the Master talk of Eliza being traded, Eliza takes to the night. She follows the path and the words of the farmhand Old Joe, “ … travel the night … sleep the day. Go East. Your back to the set of the sun until you come to the safe house where the candlelight lights the window.” All the while, Eliza recites the stories her mother taught her along her Freedom Road from Maryland to St. Catherine’s, Canada.
In this well-crafted tale, Nolen reveals some of the traumas and tragedies of slavery but keeps her focuson those things that allow Eliza the power to escape: literacy, her mother’s legacy, a bit of luck and a great deal of courage.
Alma Powell, wife of former Secretary of State Colin Powell
“A story of hope, determination, and the triumph of the human spirit.”
Nikki Giovanni, poet
“This is not a book for yesterday but rather for tomorrow. I’m so glad Jerdine Nolen had the imagination and courage to write this. Read it now to your children so that they will read it to your grandchildren so that it will be read on and on. History and imagination is how we survive.”