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Freedom's Just Another Word Paperback – September 6, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Eighteen-year-old Easy lives in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1970. Hers is the only black family in town, and her father runs the local garage. She is a skilled mechanic, but her dream is to sing the blues. Her heroine is Janis Joplin. When Janis invites Easy to sing for her in Texas, Easy will stop at nothing to make her way to the recently desegregated South to chase her dream. The teen embarks upon a road trip accompanied by two nuns. While this setup sounds like the makings of a great novel, the story suffers in execution. The casual racism that Easy experiences during her trip does not create the expected responses of anger and sorrow but feels much more cerebral. This may be the result of the author's heavy reliance on telling rather than showing. There are lost opportunities in the narrative to evoke the sense of danger of traveling as a lone black woman in the South in the 1970s, even one who is somewhat naive about her situation. Easy's ultimate decision not to sing at Threadgill's in Austin will be confusing to readers because she doesn't seem overly concerned about racism until the moment when she might achieve her dream if she sings in front of racists. In spite of this, the well-researched setting makes for interesting reading. VERDICT A unique story about a fascinating place and time. Purchase where deep collections of historical fiction featuring people of color are needed.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Time spent with this strong, savvy female protagonist is time well spent... (Kirkus Reviews 2016-07-20)
A unique story about a fascinating place and time. (School Library Journal 2016-09-01)
Easy is a believable mix of perceptiveness and naivety, with an engaging and sardonic voice.... Stellings succeeds in providing a vivid glimpse of a little-known slice of Canadian history that will make young readers think more deeply about race and social justice. (Quill & Quire)
Caroline Stellings composes a story that is both embedded in the [1970s] yet universal in its themes of acceptance, tolerance, and family. By taking Easy on a journey both spatially from Saskatoon to Albuquerque and Texas and back, and emotionally as she struggles with acknowledgement of her own family’s secrets and story, Caroline Stellings creates an alluring, cross-country excursion of the soul and heart which ends with finding enlightenment, sometimes closer to home than you might expect. (CanLit for Little Canadians)
Freedom's Just Another Word is an extraordinary novel with a courageous narrator.... Easy’s journey is not an “easy” one in this novel; however, she makes some very difficult choices with dignity. ... The portrait of Janis Joplin is brutally honest and fascinating, and adds a historical dimension to this beautifully written novel. (CM: Canadian Review of Materials)
Caroline Stellings gives us more than just your typical gal-pal road trip... [she] gives us a fantastic piece of historical fiction that takes us from one extreme to another with a strong relatable character. (Canadian Children's Book News)
Stellings handles these heavy topics deftly, with Easy’s confidence and humour. (Resource Links)
With good dialogue, an attractive main character, unexpected humour, and real history thrown in, this is an important book that teens will find compelling reading. (Winnipeg Free Press)
Easy is a delightful character... a charming novel. (Historical Novels Review)
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