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Truth: A Novel Hardcover – July 29, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First-timer Sheehan offers an uneven but emotionally and lyrically powerful novelization of the life of Sojourner Truth. Born Isabella at the beginning of the 19th century, the future crusader for equality and justice spends nine years on a New York State farm with her wise mother and kind father before being sold-as a lot, along with sheep, at auction. Whipped for speaking her native Dutch, she begins to talk to God: "God is big to us, and we should speak to him under the biggest sky," her mother always said. So begin years of masters both kind and cruel, but none able to see her as a human-a blindness Isabella describes as one of the damages slavery inflicts on both slave and master. Though Isabella experiences indescribable horrors, she also finds love and desire; she even meets with rare self-sacrifice and aid from abolitionist whites, some helping her sue to get her son back from an illegal master. After she acquires her freedom and becomes a preacher, she falls in with a "house of seekers" led by a false prophet, Matthias, whom at first she stands by ("I did not survive slavery and see two husbands die of broken spirits to be put off so easily"), and from whose thrall she barely escapes. Isabella's strong, warm, distinctive voice is a genuine accomplishment, able to render tortures and prayers alike. Though the pacing is inconsistent, this is a disturbing and robust work, offering a new way of looking at one of history's greatest champions of freedom.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Psychologist Sheehan offers a fictionalized account of the life of Sojourner Truth, relating the incredible saga of a woman who survived slavery and cruelty to become a fiery abolitionist orator. Sheehan's story is based on five years of research of public documents, including Truth's own Narrative of Sojourner Truth, which Sheehan's character describes as "weak tea." The novel is graphic in describing the cruelty and suffering inflicted on slave women as it explores the mental and emotional development of a young girl who is sold away from a loving family at the age of nine and thrown into the hands of a succession of cruel masters. Truth, who took her name from a divine inspiration, suffered the loss of the man she loved and later separation from her children, all the time receiving guidance from her conversations with God. Following Emancipation, she takes up with spiritualists before settling into a lifelong crusade for reparations for slaves and women's right to vote. Historical fiction fans will enjoy this sensitive portrayal of a slave woman's survival and triumph. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (July 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743244443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743244442
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,805,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jacqueline Sheehan, Ph.D., is a fiction writer and essayist. She is a New Englander through and through, but spent twenty years living in the western states of Oregon, California, and New Mexico doing a variety of things, including house painting, freelance photography, newspaper writing, clerking in a health food store, and directing a traveling troupe of high school puppeteers. She is currently the fiction editor for Patchwork Journal, an online journal sponsored by Patchwork Farm, an internationally based writing center. Jacqueline teaches workshops on writing and the combination of yoga and writing.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The author's beautifully determined words grabbed my heart from page one. It should be required reading in American history classes. I especially enjoyed Isabella's consciousness -- i.e.,personal relationship God/Higher Power in the true sense of the word.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Comparable to Toni Morrison's BELOVED in its lyrical, beautifully rendered prose and sense of time and place. I learned so much from this moving, ultimately uplifting book. A masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carol on September 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kudos to Isabella and Jacqueline. To Isabella for not only enduring and surviving but for overcoming and rising above an unimaginable life. From the newborn babe of a slave to the child auctioned off along with the sheep to the woman Sojourner Truth was a remarkable journey. Back 50+ years ago in high school history class, we learned 'slavery was' and then 'it was not'. No fanfare. No heart. No compassion. No personalization. No outrage. Perhaps, if humanity had entered the classroom through the story of Isabella, I would have been more interested and become a better history student. Perhaps, if I had read about Isabella's faith in God earlier on, it wouldn't have taken me so long to learn that truth. To Jacqueline Sheehan, job well done. I appreciate so much the 4-5 years she studied her subject (this slave girl become abolishionist) before writing The Comet's Tale. I'm sure it helped her do a magnicant job of interlacing threads of truth with fiction to make a tapestry well worth reading. I hope my family members will accept my offer to borrow this ereader book from me. I encourage those reading this review to buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Kronberg on June 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm glad I read this book. Because it was written in the first person, I was able to imagine, from the outside of course, how it felt to be this person in each of her days. There were times when I had to put my kindle down, because I was too shocked and angry to my core that anyone could treat her so thoughtlessly and with such venom!

This is a novel about a person's life, a girl born into a system that found her useful, saw her as soulless and treated her like an inanimate tool. She turned herself into a beacon of light in a very dark time in this country. Her faith made her strong and her song healed the wounded.

This it the kind of book I should have had access to when I was a teen, because what they taught me in school didn't begin to unearth this important subject in any real way.
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By Jamie Elliotte on March 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The main character is challenged again and again, yet with her innocence leading her every move, she keeps the most unique admirable attitude. A must read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An interesting story about the life of a slave, her family and the people who owned them. After becoming free, her idea of choosing to name herself Sojourner Truth; losing the slave name.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm still reading this wonderful novel about a real life heroine, Sojourner Truth. The harsh reality of life as a slave in America had me crying the first few pages of this book. A shameful period of American history.
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