Cover Image: My Name Is Ona Judge

My Name Is Ona Judge

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My Name is Ona Judge is a beautiful tribute to a historical figure who's just now starting to have her voice heard.  Split between present day and the past, this novel explores abuse, bondage, and healing, showing that they can take numerous different forms than what we think of when we first hear those words.  In modern times, Tessa embarks on a journey to reclaim her freedom from an abusive boyfriend, and she finds inspiration and comfort in Ona's story.  Tessa is an easy character to root for, and she's funny and loveable.  Ona's bravery and complexity shine on the pages through Suzette D. Harrison's interpretation of her voice, and I'm excited to know that more people will become interested in Ona's story after reading this novel.  Highly recommend, especially for lovers of historical fiction that doesn't whitewash the brutal realities of the past!
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Tessa has an up-and-coming interior design business, but she’s beyond busy with the few clients she currently has. When her grandma asks her to take on redesigning a family cabin on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, she can’t say no. She stumbles across a hidden diary in the cabin and discovers the story of her ancestor, Ona Judge – one of heartbreak, betrayal, and danger. As Tessa delves into Ona’s story, she begins to find the courage to deal with the betrayals and heartbreak in her own life.

This work consisted of a dual timeline following Tessa’s present-day story and Ona Judge’s life in the 18th century. The author did this well, finding an excellent balance between the two stories and releasing information at a steady pace. Ona’s story was powerful and was written in a way that the tragedy, heartbreak, and strength were all quite evident. Tessa’s story complimented Ona’s perfectly, as did the common themes between the two.

I quite enjoyed the historical details incorporated into Ona’s story, especially relating to the treatment of slaves by the Washingtons. The personalization of the Washingtons was quite different than anything ever discussed in school. Learning about the way they moved their household to avoid emancipation laws was fascinating and paints the first president in a whole new light. The discussion on other historical aspects, such as dower slaves, was also enlightening and added to this story in a meaningful way.

I highly recommend this read to fans of historical fiction, family dramas, and those interested in a less white-washed depiction of George Washington and his household. Many thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for allowing me to read and review this work, which was beautifully written.
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I’ve had a couple other books by the author and sang their praises. Unfortunately, this one didn’t give me the same feeling. I had never heard of the historical portion of the book and that’s what made me want to read it. I understand that there isn’t a lot of information out there about enslaved people, but this one just had me wanting more! The writing is as great as always
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⭐⭐⭐ -- Beautiful cover on this one!

This was a middle of the road type of read for me. I didn't love it nor did I hate it. The dual timeline worked well. However, I found myself more interested in Ona than I did Tessa. I also felt it was slow at times. Like i said, not a bad read by any means. I just wasn't blown away. 🤷🏻‍♀️

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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I grabbed the audiobook version of this title because I thought I wanted to hear it, but I feel like I would have enjoyed page reading instead. I didn’t mind the voices chosen, but they didn’t elevate the experience either.  I also find that I  want to read more about Ona Judge after reading this novel. I feel her story, particularly post escaping enslavement was glossed over (maybe we don’t have enough detail about her life?) in deference to a deep dive into the present day narrator’s life. Suffice it to say I felt this was two different books held together by one sliver thin connection point. 
I enjoy Suzette’s work so this review has no bearing on my opinion of her as an author or storyteller and will as always be at the front of the line for the next book!
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This is fantastic historical fiction that brings Ona's story to life in a beautiful and harrowing way.  I appreciated the dual timelines, as I think it added a lot to the story by shifting the focus from Ona's difficult circumstances and emotionally deep experiences.  This is one of those books that I am so glad to have read because it sticks with my soul and reminds me not to take simple things like my family and freedom for granted.
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Thank you to the author, publisher, and Net Galley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed the dual timeline of My Name is Ona  Judge.  I didn't know Ona's story and after reading this book it made me research and learn more about her and her life.  I love books that make me so invested that I want to learn more about the characters, time in history, or place and this book does that.  If you love historical fiction, give this book a chance.
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Captivating, beautifully written and a story worth reading. If I could give this 6 stars I would. I delved down a rabbit hole on the internet while ready this and have come away so informed and aware! Brilliant.
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My Name is Ona Judge is the story of two women who find themselves and the strength to leave their situations. One evening while looking through a family friend's house Tessa Scott discovers a diary that belongs to a woman named Ona Judge. Ona was a slave of General George Washington who escaped while he was President and living in Philadelphia. Ona was born to a slave of Mrs. Martha Washington and a white tailor that was working as an indentured servant. All of the slaves owned by Martha were actually being held in trust for her grandchildren and could not be sold or released. Ona was a favorite of the grandchildren and at a young age was moved into the house to take care of them. After a few years she became Martha's personal slave. This put Ona in a stiuation to be able to escape when the time presented itself. 
Tessa is a home designer in Virginia and is family friends of the descendants of Ona's sister. Tessa has found herself in a relationship with an African American doctor who comes from a rich family. She has started to find that her boyfriend is different than the person she initially meet. He is controlling and demeaning. After an incident where he bruised her arm she finds the strength to escape him.
Ona is someone I never heard of and I enjoyed reading a fictionalized version of her story. So often we are taught that Washington freed his slaved after his death but what we are not taught is that only about a third of the slaves at Mount Vernon were his and that all those others were stuck in bondage to be given to these children when they become of age. These stories told from the enslaved person's perspective are so important to help breakdown existing perspectives.
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Some books just speak to you when you first read about them.  My Name is Ona Judge by Suzette D. Harrison was one of those books for me and I knew I just had to be a part of the book tour for it!

I love a great historical fiction novel, as well as the dual timeline concept.  Even better is a novel that addresses a different time period or concept compared to my normal reads.  My Name is Ona Judge is all that and more, focusing on the story of Ona Judge, a slave to Martha Washington, who eventually ran from Mount Vernon and established a life as a free woman.  The contemporary storyline follows Tessa as she discovers a journal written by Ona while in the process of renovating a family home.  As Tessa discovers more of Ona's story, she grapples with the problems in her own life too.

I had heard of Ona Judge prior to the book (as a former social studies teacher, I tend to have a good recollection for these things), but immersing myself into Ona's story really brought it home.  I had known her as the woman who escaped the Washingtons but was never caught, but very little of the rest of her story.  Harrison does an amazing job with the research into Ona's story and really brings the story to life, sharing the details of Ona's life as a slave and as a free woman.

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My, My, My…Ona Judge…Historical History At It’s Best!! 🖤🤎🖤

What can I say! Mrs. Harrison has made me a huge fan of her dual timeline historicals; taking the past and present and making it flow ever so effortlessly!! And with this book, oh, the history it tells!! You have Ona, a slave who will never be free, and Tessa, who needs to free herself from a dominant and abusive partner!! How their lives intertwined was such a beautiful story!

Tessa said, “Finding Miss Ona’s journal and reading her story was a lesson in dignity.” Miss Ona said, “Tessa was there alone, in stillness, snapping photos for what she thought would be her project. But it was ours.”

And indeed, it was both of theirs! This was such a poignant story and so darn hard to put down! If you haven’t had the chance to read this, I highly recommend that you do! And while purchasing this book, go ahead and pick up Mrs. Harrison’s other two dual timeline historicals, “The Girl At The Back Of The Bus” and “The Dust Bowl Orphans.” Suzette, all I have left to say is “KUDOS!!” 💜💜💜
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My Name is Ona Judge is the third book I have read by Suzette D. Harrison and I enjoyed this one as much as The Girl at the back of the Bus and The Dustbowl Orphans. The story is told in dual timelines, with the present being narrated by Tessa Scott, an interior designer who is ambitious and extremely busy. She gets a request from her ex-boyfriend, Brandon (aka BC) to come and look at his grandma's (Momma Calloway) house. He things she should sell it, but his grandma thinks they should keep it. When Tessa looks over the house, she finds a diary written by Ona Judge Staines in 1796. Ona is Momma Calloway's Aunt Ona, an escaped slave, escaped from Mount Vernon and the household of George and Martha Washington. Tessa doesn't want to get involved as she is dealing with relationship and health issues, and she has a lot of decisions to make about her life. BC's family begins a journey to authenticate the journal. The second timeline is the story of Ona Judge. She is a very happy girl until she reaches the age of ten, when she is ripped from her family home and moved into the house of George Washington to become the maid and plaything of his five year old granddaughter. In Ona's story we see her life as a slave, her treatment, her escape and life afterwards. That is all I will say about the story.

This was another well-written story by Suzette D. Harrison. I have read many books dealing with slavery, but with every book, I learn something new. This is a slow moving story, but it is beautifully written and I was captivated for most of the story. The two timelines mesh well and the end has the two stories come together in a wonderful way. The characters are wonderfully portrayed. Tessa and Ona both have to deal with abusive situations. The secondary characters all add to the story. Tessa's boyfriend, Dominic, is written in an honest way and is easy to dislike as is fitting the storyline. Whenever I read dual timeline stories, I usually prefer one timeline over the other and in this book, it is definitely Ona's story. Some of the scenes where the slaves are mistreated are hard to read, but important to the story. Tessa's story had a bit of a supernatural touch and that is not my favourite plot device, but I did enjoy her story. Themes of racism/discrimination, slavery, abuse, ambition, friendship and rescuing yourself are all touched on. This story is based on a real person and her story, which makes it all the more poignant. The research that was done to pen this story must have been thorough and it shines through. Make sure you read the author's note at the end of the book to find out about the writing of this book. If you enjoy Historical Fiction, especially that of slavery and set in the United States, then I recommend you pick this book up.
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What a beautifully written story!  Written in dual timelines, I equally enjoyed each one.  The transition between the two timelines was smooth.  Sometimes when I'm reading a book that have multiple timelines, I'm always anxious to get through one because it's not flowing well with the other.  However, this story flows extremely well.

Ona was my favorite.  Despite the horrible time in which she lived, she was a happy child.  She loved her family and friends.  As a young child she witnessed the day to day horror of being enslaved, being reminded of her "subhuman" position.  She was smart, kept her eyes and ears opened, but there were a couple of instances when I thought if caught, she was going to suffer severe consequences.  I admired her determination, courage and strength to take what was rightfully hers.

I liked Tessa's personality.  Career-driven, all business when necessary, but fun when hanging out with family and friends.  There were moments when I thought "girl, what are you thinking", but she pulled through.

What also stood out in this intriguing story was the secondary characters.  Each character played a valuable role in the growth of Ona and Tessa.  

I'm looking forward to reading more of Suzette D. Harrison's books.  If her other novels are anything like My Name Is Ona Judge, I'll become a loyal reader. This novel delved into racism, colorism, abuse, love, loss, healing and the  truth about founding of America.

Thank you Netgalley and Bookouture for an advanced ebook copy for my review.
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Special thanks to the author, @bookouture, & @netgalley for my advanced copy.

I really enjoyed reading this although it was a bit slow paced at times. It was beautifully written and inspired by true events. The author gave us a dual novel based during both the past and present. 

Told from the perspective of two characters. Ona Judge an escaped slave who lived in the household of former president George Washington. Modern day told by Tessa a friend of Ona’s family who stumbled upon an old diary filled with events and things that occurred throughout Ona’s life while living on Mt.Vernon and after her escape. 

Tessa’s perspective kind of aided in bringing everything together. The novel could’ve been just as great if it were only about Ona too. Tessa’s boyfriend Dominic was giving Charles from a “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” vibes. So, it was great to see her finally gain the courage to leave him. 

I enjoyed reading and learning about Ona the most. I guess I was more drawn to her experience considering the situations were more informative and based on real events. Her story also gave a firsthand look into how the Washington’s lived and the way other slaves treated each other based on their skin color. Assuming those with lighter skin were somehow treated better than the rest. Not even realizing at the end of the day they were all still in bondage. 

Just like Dominic, Simmie was another character that became unlikeable. Her behavior toward Ona who was a child at the time was uncalled for and harsh. Ona was dealing with a lot being torn away from her family. Forced to be the playmate of the Washington’s granddaughter then later being pulled to be the maid of Martha Washington. While I’m sure she didn’t actually want either position being the maid of the mistress pushed Simmie out of the way. Which was the cause of her hateful behavior toward Ona. 

Overall this was a great read the author did an amazing job blending the timelines and she addressed so much. Learning of Ona Judge was something new for me. If you’re into historical fiction I definitely recommend!!!!
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Every time I say, "Author Suzette Harrison can't surprise me," she doubles down and blows me away. From the first page to the last, My Name is Ona Judge. held me captive. When she first posted that she was writing this book, I couldn't wait to get my hands and eyes on it. I love historical fiction, and this book didn't disappoint. I loved the dual timeline, a glimpse into the past, a dip back into the present. It flowed flawlessly, the scenes so vivid, I almost felt I was there.

Ms. Ona Judge was a slave, owned by George Washington. Ona basically jornaled, writing her story to give to her children. Reading the part about the Independence Day celebration reminded me of my grandfather telling me, "We don't celebrate Independence Day because we weren't independent." 

This book was "unputdownable" and after a couple cups of coffee, my favorite snacks, reading to my grandbaby, I finished this book in 2 days.  I'd highly recommend it to any and everyone! To the author, I'm standing up, clapping as hard as I can, and screaming, "Encore! Encore!"
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Finding an old diary in a stained journal, Tessa finds herself caught up in the story of Ona Judge, a former slave in the household of George Washington. This is an intriguing story and very well written historical fiction. I will be looking for more of this talented author's works. Recommended reading.
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I'm excited to share about this new novel about Ona Judge, a slave of Martha Washington. It toggles between the past (Ona's story) and the present (Tessa's story). I really loved Ona's story and voice and all the historical details that were woven in. Based in fact, this was a story that I was never taught in school.

Highly recommended! 

Thank you for my copy and for letting me be part of the tour!
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In her latest release, Suzette D. Harrison, through a dual time narrative and part fictional biography, tells the story of Ona Judge, a slave owned by Martha Washington, the wife of the first President of the United States of America.

We first meet Ona Judge as a ten year old being taught the skills of a seamstress by her mother. Ona is happy in the knowledge that as dower slaves she and her family will not be separated, sold off the plantation at any time like those slaves owned by George Washington. The dower slaves form part of the inheritance of Martha Washington's grandchildren.

However, Ona is separated from her loving family when she is assigned to the mansion, initially as the live-in playmate and servant to one of Martha Washington's granddaughters. Her talent with a sewing needle comes to the attention of Martha Washington and eventually Ona becomes Martha Washington's personal maid. When Washington is elected President and the household spends time between the plantation and New York, and later Philadelphia, Ona is separated from her family again.

As she grows older, Ona becomes aware of the hierarchy amongst the slaves themselves and how variations in skin colour make a difference to how they are treated. Those lightest in colour are tolerated around the Washington family and their visitors, while those darker are relegated to other jobs around the mansion or sent out to the fields. Ona is also aware of the hypocrisy of the Washingtons, especially in relation to the document Washington signed declaring all are created equal.

She witnesses the cruel punishment meted out to recaptured runaway slaves and, despite this, when she overhears a conversation in which her fate is being decided, Ona makes the brave decision to flee the Washington household.

This is a very thought provoking story of a woman who actually lived and dared to defy the President of the United States. I had not heard of Ona Judge before, but it is a name I will not forget. Her story is an emotional one that exposes the inhumanity slaves suffered and the courage required to make that all important bid for freedom.

While the modern thread of the novel was enjoyable and adroitly woven into Ona's story, highlighting similarities between the two women and certain aspects of their lives, I connected more with Ona. The impact of her story was all the greater for my having resisted the urge to research her life before reading this book.

My Name is Ona Judge is an amazing novel and one I'm happy to recommend.
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Ona Judge was a slave.  She was the "possession" of Martha Washington, wife of George Washington.  This story is told from two time periods the  current by Tessa Lorraine who finds the diary of Ona Judge and from Ona's own perspective.  Both women are on different journeys in their lives.  Tessa is trying to find her way in life in the modern world, Ona is on a journey to find her way to freedom.  Ona's life is truly more compelling since she is a witness to history, she's privy to many ins and outs of the home life of George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon.  I did like Tessa but I found Ona's journey more interesting because her stakes were higher.  Learning about slave life, how people navigated their lives, how they maintained a sense of self, how they loved and had families through those very difficult circumstances made for a tale that was interesting, full of historical detail and was such an interesting read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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Who doesn't love a Dual Timeline novel about a part of history you know nothing about? These two qualities are literally my favourite things in historical fiction.
Harrison wrote a wonderful book, The Girl at the Back of the Bus, which tells the story of Rosa Parks.
This one centre's around Ona Judge (the clue is in the title) who was the maid/slave of George and Martha Washington. 
Tessa's story brought it into the present day, and while I didn't gain a lot from her background, it helped to highlight the differences in society and I believe it was a better book for it.
The scenes that are described were rather bewildering for me, that people of such stature treated people that they saw were below them. 'Behind Closed Doors' really screams at me when reading, and I had no idea that such prominent figures did what is described here.
This is a shocking and harrowing read at times, but so important.
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