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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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—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
The thrilling role of the unrecognized young hero will grab teen readers.
Top Customer Reviews
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 The historical documents tucked everywhere in this book are interesting in and of themselves, but with the dry writing and storytelling are more distractions that left me wondering if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.
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.
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.Read more ›
I am not in the habit of reading books aimed at younger readers. This one I read, though, because I know Gigi and because the book is a finalist for the Library of Virginia's People's Choice Award.
Told mostly from the point of view of Gabriel, the leader of the failed rebellion, the story depicts his childhood on a Virginia plantation. It is often the story of betrayal-at the hands of his white playmate who becomes his "master" and his compatriots in the rebellion. But it's also a love story. For me, primarily, it was a history lesson.
I would definitely recommend this book for young readers.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story of Gabriel, a slave born in 1777, is told for the first time in Amateau’s historical fiction tale of his life. Read morePublished 17 months ago by SunshineRose
It was a good story from the point of view of the slaves. It was well researched and fiction made believable.Published 23 months ago by Wat
I read this book with my middle-schooler for a historical fiction book report. We really enjoyed the story and the accurate historical story line. Read morePublished on February 22, 2014 by Elisabeth F. Arnold
I liked the book. It flows well and gives much more information about daily life of slaves than I'd expected... Read morePublished on January 15, 2014 by LRK
Gabriel is a slave that becomes an apprentice for a blacksmith. While he is attempting to make and save money, he is unable to purchase his love. Read more
I feel it's important to share history and bring characters to life; it's how we remember the good and bad of history. However, this book does not deliver. Read morePublished on December 31, 2013 by kiwanissandy
I wasn't expecting to like this book, but as part of the vine program I tried it out and I really liked it! I'm giving it to my teenager next to read. High recommended.Published on December 30, 2013 by MicheleLK
This is a fascinating story of a complicated time in our history and an equally complicated character inhabiting it. Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by Karen Baker