Author: Delia Sherman
Book: The Freedom Maze
Published: November 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Winner of the 2012 Andre Norton Award
In the summer of 1960, thirteen-year-old Sophie Martineau is recovering from her parents’ divorce. Her mother takes her to stay at her grandmother’s old house in the bayou. Her mother is still bitter from the divorce and looking to start a new life. Sophie’s boredom draws her to the house’s maze. Inside the maze, she meets a strange creature. Impulsively, she makes a wish for a fantasy book adventure. The reality is a real adventure, with all the unpleasantness real adventures entail. The creature sends Sophie back in time to 1860 to the Louisiana sugar plantation that her ancestors once owned. This is a year before the start of the War Between the States, two-and-a-half years before the Emancipation Proclamation, and four years from the Thirteenth Amendment. She needs to find the reason the creature dropped her here. Worse, her ancestors mistake Sophie as one of their slaves.
The Freedom Maze is an interesting adventure from the pen of Delia Sherman. It is not my usual fare. As my readers know, my tastes run more toward action and adventure. That said, I found myself surprised that this book was quite engaging. A wish sends Sophie back in time for an adventure. Her adventure comprises living life as a slave. She meets the kindness and spitefulness of both the masters and the slaves. She quickly adapts to not having Twentieth Century conveniences and slowly wins over the slaves who see her as a stranger and too white. The white masters are much harder to win over. The mystery Sophie must solve is to discover the purpose for which the creature brought her to this place and time.
Once I got into the book, it proved to be much more enjoyable than I expected.