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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Colson Whitehead, James McBride, Yaa Gyasi, and Lawrence Hill, Up from Freedom is a powerful and emotional novel about the dangers that arise when we stay silent in the face of prejudice or are complicit in its development.

As a young man, Virgil Moody vowed he would never be like his father, he would never own slaves. When he moves from his father's plantation in Savannah to New Orleans, he takes with him Annie, a tiny woman with sharp eyes and a sharper tongue, who he is sure would not survive life on the plantation. She'll be much safer with him, away from his father's cruelty. And when he discovers Annie's pregnancy, already a few months along, he is all the more certain that he made the right decision. 

As the years pass, the divide between Moody's assumptions and Annie's reality widens ever further. Moody even comes to think of Annie as his wife and Lucas as their son. Of course, they are not. As Annie reminds him, in moments of anger, she and Moody will never be equal. She and her son are enslaved. When their "family" breaks apart in the most brutal and tragic way, and Lucas flees the only life he's ever known, Moody must ask himself whether he has become the man he never wanted to be - but is he willing to hear the answer? 

Stretching from the war-torn banks of the Rio Brazos in Texas to the muddy waters of Freedom, Indiana, Moody travels through a country on the brink of civil war, relentlessly searching for Lucas and slowly reconciling his past sins with his hopes for the future. When he meets Tamsey, a former slave, and her family trying to escape the reach of the Fugitive Slave Act, Moody sees an opportunity for redemption. But the world is on the cusp of momentous change, and though some things may be forgotten, nothing is ever really forgiven.

©2018 Wayne Grady (P)2018 Doubleday Canada

Critic Reviews

"Powerful.... Forgiveness is not easy, nor is the story that Grady tells.... But at a time when racism and violence is still tearing at America - and Canada - it is a timely story that sheds light on how far we have and have not come.... [Up from Freedom] is a deeply layered story well told." (Toronto Star)

"Wayne Grady's Up from Freedom pulls history from fiction and fiction from history in a way we very much need in these troubled, ever-evolving times. Focusing on the issues of race and self-identity on a continent built by whites on the backs of blacks forcibly removed from their continent, it examines not only the clash of two colors but the inevitable blending of them and its far-reaching and profound implications. The subject matter of the book comes to life on the printed page in this inter-generational, inter-racial book by way of a riveting narrative and a cast of complex, appealing characters. Up from Freedom is an important and engaging book." (Wayne Johnston, author of the nationally bestselling Son of a Certain Woman)

"Grady writes with such careful devotion to history and human character that the private conflicts in this story perfectly expose the racial tumult of the 1830s in America. His language is forthright; his point of view unsparing; and he guides us through the landscape of slavery by walking just ahead of it and holding up a mirror." (Linda Spalding, author of The Purchase and A Reckoning)

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Powerful

This book is excellent. Wayne Grady did not leave anything out. It’s serious drama, it’s comical, it lifts you up then spirals you down listening to the tragedy of slavery. Matt Godfrey left you spellbound As he delivered

1 of 1 people found this review helpful