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Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel Hardcover – September 11, 2012


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Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel + The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763647926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763647926
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,721,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1800, long before the Civil War, there was a slave uprising in Richmond, Virginia, and this stirring fictionalized biography imagines the life of the young rebel leader, Gabriel. Born a slave on a plantation, young Gabriel learns to read with the owner’s son, Thomas, and is trained as a blacksmith in town. But he also witnesses unspeakable brutality: his father is sold away, his mother is whipped, and when Thomas takes over as master, he refuses to allow Gabriel to marry fellow slave Nanny. Inspired by the slave revolt led by Touissant Louverture on Saint Domingue Island, 24-year-old Gabriel calls on his people to fight for freedom, and thousands follow him. With his blacksmith training, he helps forge swords from pitchforks and scythes, but the plot is discovered. The line between fact and fiction is not always clear: Are the slave-owner’s journal entries invented or archival documents? But the authentic newspaper reports put the history in context, and the thrilling role of the unrecognized young hero will grab teen readers. Grades 8-12. --Hazel Rochman

Review

Amateau’s prose is appropriately passionate, but it’s tempered with disciplined restraint and moments of startling delicacy. Although the subject of this title will call to historical fiction readers who appreciate such thoughtful works as M. T. Anderson’s Octavian Nothing (BCCB 11/06), teens who approach history with the poetic insight of Marilyn Nelson will also find Amateau’s chronicle rewarding.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

The thrilling role of the unrecognized young hero will grab teen readers.
—Booklist

More About the Author

Gigi Amateau's first book for young adults, Claiming Georgia Tate, was published by Candlewick Press in 2005. That title was selected as a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age and hailed by author Judy Blume: "It's rare and exciting to discover a talented new writer like Gigi Amateau." The Wall Street Journal called the book "an ambitious push into the young adult market."

She is also the author of A Certain Strain of Peculiar, a Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, and Chancey of the Maury River, A William Allen White Masters list title for grades 3-5. Come August, Come Freedom, her first work of historical fiction, was named a 2013 Jefferson Cup Honor title and chosen by Bank Street College as a Best Children's Book of the Year. In 2012, Gigi received a Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts from Richmond magazine.

Customer Reviews

By that I mean the "good" guys have no faults while the "bad" guys have no goodness of any kind in them.
Terry L
In this book, close to being my top favorite - but not quite overtaking "Day of Tears" - the reader is immersed in the world of 18th century slavery.
CCGal
It should have been a riveting story given the historical facts but somehow the author did not get us that engaged with the characters.
M. Tanenbaum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Emily J. Morris VINE VOICE on October 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I admit, I do feel guilt over reading about the work of important historical figures and then snubbing it. But I've done it before and here I am doing it again. Gigi Amateau pulls a figure out of history, tells his story, and somehow in the process completely neglects the storyteller's art. This is a book that will probably be defended with passionate cries of "Butbutbut it's history!"

Sorry, but that's not enough for me.

With all due respect to the Black General, this book is completely dry and lackluster. In Ms. Amateau's excitement of telling this story, she fails to create interesting characters or even work to engage the reader. I found myself soldiering through this book for lack of anything else to do, appreciating the book's situations, but never becoming absorbed into this story. The historical documents tucked everywhere in this book are interesting in and of themselves, but with the dry writing and storytelling are more distractions that left me wondering if they were included simply because Ms. Amateau didn't want to bother writing out the details. In fact, much of this book is told simply through dull summary.

Yes, Ms. Amateau brings to light a fascinating figure from a time of chaos in history, and I appreciate her doing that. But as a novel, this book falls flat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Wiles Parker VINE VOICE on July 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read a lot of historical fiction and I have to admit, I was really let down by this book. I learned more about Gabriel from reading the wiki page than I did this volume. The book seems to rest somewhere between speculative history and biography and places rather too much emphasis on the character of Nanny whom we are led to believe was the driving force in Gabriel's life. Granted there is a lot we do not know about Gabriel's life and the author can create whatever she wants to a certain degree, but the ARC at least is missing one key element: a bibliography/author's note/historical note. Reading the back tells me that the book includes real historical documents but not a single one is noted in the ARC; if outside sources are used they really need to be noted. I have no doubt the author did research of some kind but it needs to be included in the text in this case because it's rather an important part of verifying the historical part from the fiction.

But there are more problems with the book for me. For one, the characterization is very black and white. Even if Gabriel is in the wrong he's hailed as a hero and all of the white characters are painted in some negative way even if they're supposed to be part of the "good" contingent. Furthermore, even without prior knowledge of Gabriel's life, I had a pretty good idea of where the book would end up. The writing is accessible but the plotting is not overly shocking. What you think will happen probably will in some way. There's nothing of a revelation. And as for being a book about what freedom really means, well, it presents the idea but about all I got was that freedom for Gabriel (from the author's point of view) amounts to being able to live his own life with Nanny free of his master.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory McMahan VINE VOICE on August 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book, which reads like a book for young adults, is a fictionalized account of actual events that conveniently have been forgotten (like the U.S.-backed Fenian invasion of Canada, as told in books such as Fianna: A story every Canadian school child learns, but one conveniently forgotten in America., Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle that Made Canada: The History of Canada and Turning Back the Fenians: New Brunswick's Last Colonial Campaign (New Brunswick Military Heritage Series)). It also is a carefully crafted character study of a man trapped by the limits imposed upon him by society, and his attempts, both intellectual and spiritual, to transcend those limitations. In the end, like all true revolutionaries, he responds to failure in the intellectual and spiritual realms by treading the path of violence to achieve his goal.

The book, which is interspersed with simple black-and-white drawings and quite a few historical anecdotes (particularly of the U.S. Atlantic slave trade), is a powerful and stark reminder of a very dark time in American history. Hopefully, one day books like this one will become required reading for all schoolchildren in the United States.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get to know the real, and very sordid, history of America.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the fictional backstory of a slave named Gabriel who lead a slave revolt that failed tragically. While I think by providing a personal history for Gabriel was a clever device to tell the real Gabriel's story in a moving way, on some levels it worked into a lot of stereotypes. The slave owners seemingly had absolutely no redeeming qualities and seemed flat. The story at times bordered on overly emotional. There seemed to be very little balance in this story as it essentially detailed the evils of slavery.
However, the positives of this book more than balance the picky things that I found irksome. It told a compelling real story while fleshing out the character and background of Gabriel who probably is normally seen in more anonymous terms when discussed historically. The story was often heartbreaking as it detailed the realities of slavery. It dealt with a sensitive and embarrassing topic that even today tends to be ignored and hidden.
I found this book easy to read and enjoyable for the most part. It educated its reader while humanizing and personalizing its main character. It made me care about Gabriel and it me mourn his loss as the story reached its inevitable and sad conclusion.
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