Monday, October 17, 2022

*Review* Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: March 30, 2021
Pages: 332

Coming of age in a free Black community in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson is all too aware that her mother, a physician, has a vision for their future together: Libertie is to go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to be independent? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her light-skinned mother, she will not be able to pass for white. When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises a better life on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come.
Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States, critically acclaimed and Whiting Award–winning author Kaitlyn Greenidge returns with an unforgettable and immersive novel that will resonate with readers eager to understand our present through a deep, moving, and lyrical dive into our past.

“We have to plan for the worst of what white folks do. Because they always choose the worst.”

"Womanhood is nothing but tears and sorrow." 

I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. This is my honest review. 

Before I started blogging, I had made it a habit to pick three books from my shelves that appealed to me at that time, asking my Facebook friends to choose which one I should read. I decided to return to that recently since I went about three quarters of a year without reading a single book and I have so many, and this was the first book picked, by a single friend. Unlike in the past, I did not manage to read this book straight through without picking up another book to read. In fact, I read two other books before I was able to finish this one, but that was because this subject matter was rather heavy, and I was needing something a bit more light-hearted. 

This story was not easy for me to relate to, but that's not surprising. I have no experience living in a world that hates my very existence, but I trust that Ms. Greenidge provided as accurate a representation as can be achieved in historical fiction. There really isn't much else I feel I can say about the book without going into too much detail and potentially revealing spoilers, so I'll just leave it at this. 

Overall I give Libertie 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely recommend it. - Katie 

Kaitlyn Greenidge's debut novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman, was one of the New York Times Critics’ Top 10 Books of 2016 and a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times and the features director at Harper's Bazaar, and her writing has also appeared in VogueGlamour, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Substack, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Greenidge lives in Massachusetts. Her second novel, Libertie, is available now.