Algonquin. Mar. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781616207014. $26.95. F
If coming of age isn’t hard enough for a young woman in 1860s Brooklyn, being the daughter of the only Black woman doctor in the region (possibly the country) ratchets up the pressure for Libertie Sampson. Libertie has always known that her mother would like her to follow in her footsteps and become a doctor so that they can practice together. But Libertie, who is darker-skinned than her mother and thus suffers more insults and prejudice, strains against her mother’s expectations. When she goes away to college in Ohio, she finds herself drawn more to music and poetry than medicine. Then she meets Emmanuel Chase, a Haitian man who makes promises of the life they could lead in his home country, and Libertie makes a decision that will have far-reaching consequences.
VERDICT Greenidge’s second novel (after We Love You, Charlie Freeman) is a richly detailed and well-researched work of historical fiction. Centering her narrative on the lives of Black women, she explores issues of racism, colorism and misogyny in lyrical and lovely prose.
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