Libertie is a young Black girl living in Reconstruction era Brooklyn. Her mother is a healer, a doctor, and wants nothing more than for Libertie to follow in her footsteps. Libertie goes to college but struggles to find her place and hold her interest, so she leaves to get married and move to Haiti with her new husband. There life is even more of a struggle.
It took me a long time to finish this book. That does not bode well for any hope of really enjoying it. I liked the second part of the story much better, once Libertie is in Haiti. I had a hard time really following along the first part, with her mother and the other characters in her life at that point. I think this is mostly of case of “it’s not you, it’s me” though - this does have all the makings of a good book, strong female character, good historical fiction, I just didn’t give it the time it deserved at the beginning (I started it on vacation and just wasn’t in the mood I guess!). With that said, I did really like the ending and felt it was so true to Libertie’s character. I finished wanting to know what will happen next. Also I would love to learn more about Haiti during that time period, there could’ve been more about that in the book - but also the author says in her acknowledgements that she struggled to write about a place she’s not from - so I can appreciate that too. I love when authors can own up to that kind of thing and/or explain their research and process.
Liberty is a great coming for age story. The novel questions what freedom truly looks like. Conversations arise through out the book regarding the freedom of Black people in the US and Haiti in that era. Were Black Americans free even with the heaviness of racism or were the Haitians free in their revolution for independence? The tension in the mother/daughter dynamic was not solely based on Cathy’s expectation of Libertie. Libertie being dark-skinned experienced micro-aggressions without much response from her mother. Cathy’s ability to pass as white opened doors for her that Libertie could not enter. The seeming lack of empathy towards Libertie in response to racism/colorism definitely added fuel to the fire between them. Libertie’s character really stuck with me as I wonder whether she will find freedom after all. Rating: 3.5/5
From the first line of this novel, I was hooked. The writing is stunning and lyrical and the characters and setting Greenridge has created are so alive and intriguing. There were many passages I had to read again and again just to savor the beautiful imagery and writing. This is a novel I will absolutely be purchasing a physical copy of to add to my personal collection.
What I liked:
- Hard to put down!
- A lot of characters decisions confused me…
- Some of the relationships felt rushed or unrealistic
I really, really wanted to like this book, there was so much hype about it, but I simply wasn't pulled in as hard as I wanted to be. The writing was well done, though, so I think this is more that I'm simply not the audience.
I found Libertie as a character to be compelling, but the pacing of the story was much slower than I would have liked and the story was too predictable to be exciting or a page-turner. Overall, a decent read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Libertie and her coming of age. Set in pre Civil War New York, this was a unique look into an all black community and the ways in which it could have functioned. I appreciated the exploration of the mother-daughter relationship and the struggle Libertie has between finding independence and maintaining a relationship with her mother. Thanks to netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Libertie - the character and the story by Kaitlyn Greenidge - are not what I expect. The book description speaks of a coming of age a story, a journey of self-discovery, and a journey of what it means to be a black woman in the 1860s. It is an interesting view on the history, but a negative tone that runs throughout the book makes it challenging to invest in Libertie as a character or to cheer for her happy ending.
Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2022/06/libertie.html
Reviewed for NetGalley and a publisher’s blog tour.
A magnificent novel, perfect for book clubs. Set in the 1860s, this is a story of freedom, not only for the Negro from slavery but freedom of daughters from their mothers’ hopes and dreams, freedom of wives from a husband’s expectations, freedom from all expectations, and freedom to make our own choices …basically, freedom to exist. Beautifully written in the voice of Libertie, a perfect name for the main character, your heart will fill with longing and love for your own mother. I highly recommend this novel.
The writing in this book was good. However, the characters and the plot did very little to grab the reader in. I found myself putting this book down for days without even thinking about it. Due to this, it was an ok read. Not bad, but just not intriguing.
I've seen a fair amount of mixed reviews about this one, so I've been curious about it since the publisher sent me a copy. But, I have to say that I spent a large amount of time wanting to enjoy it more...
It opens with Libertie as a young girl - her mother is a doctor, a rare enough occurrence for any woman in the 1860s, but even rarer for a Black woman (though her mother's skin is light enough to pass as white). In Kings County, New York, her mother pushes her towards medicine for a shared dream to work together some day. But, as Libertie ages, she grows apart from her mother - she feels more anger about the state of the world - perhaps in part because her experience with darker skin than her mother is different. She goes to Ohio for college - where she discovers a love of music more than her studies. Her mother, in her absence, takes on another doctor to assist her at her hospital and Libertie is surprised to feel so jealous. And after she leaves school, Emmanuel seems to be the answer to her problems as well. Against her mother's wishes, she leaves with him as his wife and goes to Haiti.
Underlying the whole book is not only Libertie's own search for her identity, but also the idea of freedom. It's a bit of a slow read and to be honest, reading at night sent me to sleep a few times... I thought some sections were much stronger than others - but overall, this is a slow read. I didn't really connect with the characters and I would have appreciated more historical detail, to be honest. But can see this being a solid selection for book clubs because there is plenty here to start out a lively discussion!
Thank you to @algonquinbooks for my #gifted copy of Libertie!
I'm a sucker for a coming of age story, let alone one that's historical fiction. This book has so many layers to it. The imagery and character development are amazing! I started it while I waited for my tire alignment and was actually irritated when my car was ready. 😂 If you're looking for more books to add to your Women's History Month stack, look no further.
Book Review: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Libertie is a historical novel about a young Black woman coming of age in the Reconstruction era.
When the novel opens Libertie is a young girl living with her widowed mother (a medical doctor) in 1860’s Brooklyn, New York when she witnesses a man nearly die after being smuggled out of the south. Her mother brings his physical body back to health but she quickly discovers that even the promise of freedom can’t cure a broken mind. The introduction of the man the locals call Ben Daisy and his inability to find peace will haunt young Libertie for the rest of her life. Despite a year at a Black college in Ohio to continue her medical training, meeting two talented singers in an unconventional relationship and throwing herself into a whirlwind marriage to a Haitian doctor Libertie will continue to struggle to define herself in the shadow of her brilliant mother in two countries of freed slaves.
Just like her namesake this novel is so much about freedom. The former slaves of America dream of liberty upon her soil, while Libertie’s husband’s family believes they can build a new world in Haiti but Libertie’s dreams are simpler and she only yearns to be free from her mother’s expectations. There is not only beautiful prose in this novel but rich historical research. From the hospital for women her mother built in Brooklyn to the dusty college in a flat middle America to the humid island of Haiti Greenidge pours both detail and lush language on to the page and I found so many beautiful quotable moments within. But it is also a novel about some of the darkest days of U.S. history and the author is unflinching in her portrayal of racism, internalized colorism and the unspoken way women’s bodies and spirits are abused by powerful men. And it asks the question of what good is to be free if your country or your family won’t let you live outside a box they built for you.
I highly recommend this beautiful and thought provoking novel for everyone including historical fiction fans and book clubs.
4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Didn't capture my attention and engagement. Interested in trying it again though and hopefully it will take.
This was such an inspirational and thought-provoking coming of age story. Beautifully written and such a joy to read.
I found this book a bit boring, but that may have been because my expectations were so high. Greenidge addresses many issues of racism and misogyny in this sweeping novel that extends from Reconstruction era New York to post-revolution Haiti. My interest was piqued after listening to a podcast interview in which Greenidge discussed how her book is based on a real person. And this book is featured on so many "best of" lists and has been nominated for awards. Unfortunately my expectations were too high - this book is a solid read, but not as spectacular as I was hoping for. I felt at times that there were too many things going on that weren't wrapped up and I never felt like the characters came to life for me.
I'd been hearing such great things about Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenridge that I just had to give it a try. And I am so happy that I did. Libertie was well written, timely, and appropriate. This novel is a coming-of-age tale mixed with historical fact. I enjoyed reading about Libertie and her mother. Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenridge also tells the story of one of the first Black female doctors in the U.S.
This was a great book and one that I will be recommending.
Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC digital copy. I have not been compensated for my opinion and this is an honest review.
Unfortunately, I was unable to finish reading this ARC digital copy before needing to switch to other books that were being archived. The book is no longer on my Goodreads "want to read" list, but I will update my review to reflect an updated opinion if I decide to finish at a later date.
This book is a must-have for your classroom bookshelves! While the story, told from the perspective of a strong, young black woman, takes us back in time to an earlier America, Libertie is a story that resonates for our time. Entertaining, emotional, and inspirational, this novel provides young adults with a black female character who is resilient, intelligent, and fierce.
A Powerful and inspiring story. Inspired by real life events. Kaitlyn’s writing will draw you in from the first line and leave you wanting more. I learnt a lot of historical facts from this tell and walked away from it feeling empowered and better for having read it.