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I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl, Mars Bluff, South Carolina 1865 (Dear America Series) Hardcover – October 1, 1997
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7–Joyce Hansens Coretta Scott King Honor book (Scholastic, 1997) is set in South Carolina in 1865 just after the Civil War. Lame, shy, and afflicted with a stammer, 12-year-old Patsy hides her ability to read and write–recording her thoughts and observations secretly in a journal. Her diary, written during her first year of freedom, expresses both her tremulous path towards personal selfhood (typical of all 12 year olds) as well as the growing political awareness, courage, and self-determination of the community of freed slaves. Through reading to others and teaching the freed plantation children their letters, Patsy begins to lose her stammer and discover her vocation. SiSi Johnsons reading of the diary perfectly captures the young girls voice and the cadences of post-Civil War South Carolina. Barbara Rosen reads the books epilogue and historical notes. Listeners will want to have the book at hand to view photographs, drawings, and maps that detail and illuminate the era. This well done audiobook has enough suspense to hold the attention of preteens while providing an enriching experience for students studying the Reconstruction period.–Emily Herman, Mary Lin Elementary School, Atlanta, GA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The life of a black girl during the period of Reconstruction is depicted through the thoughts, fears, and observations recorded by Patsy in her secret diary. From the giggles of her high spirits to her softer tones when she mentions the man she has a crush on to her sadness and fear as so many of her "family" leave the plantation, Sisi Johnson perfectly nuances Patsy's hidden emotional life and mirrors her day-to-day existence as the world she knows falls apart all around her. Hope and excitement build, and are dashed, as so many of the promises that are made during Reconstruction are never brought to fruition. What, Patsy wonders, does freedom mean in a South left shattered by the Civil War? W.L.S. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The condition was terrible.
It came with a big wet water stain.
White stuff was all over the book.
I dare not ask what it was.
The ribbon was torn.
I would return it but is not worth my time.
The book WAS AMAZING!
The condition was terrible. They call this 'Like new'.
I've never received a book from amazon that looked like this.
This tale is also a Coretta Scott King Honor book.
I just kept wanting to cry throughout this story, but I had to laugh as well, for Patsy had everyone fooled. Her own rebellion, and I'm with Patsy at the joke. It's also sad from a very personal standpoint as Patsy is both the least of the slaves, the most unwanted, and with no family. It breaks my heart to read how badly she wants to be part of a family, to be loved, to be wanted. She also wants to be her own person, so part of the story is of Patsy's search for her own name. One that belongs to her and means something.
It's a different perspective, seeing the effects of the end of the Civil War from a slave's viewpoint. While it is particularly about Patsy whom everyone believes is mentally slow. it's also a secondhand view as Patsy includes what the other slaves are saying and thinking. But we also watch Patsy's evolution: the inner one in which she comes to understand why the people around her act as they do and the external one in which everyone around her comes to see her value.
I was so angry with Master and Mistress for not telling their slaves about their being free; I can understand why they didn't, but it doesn't lessen how I feel.
You'd think that with slaves walking off right and left that the Davises would be nicer to the ones who are still there...
Do read the "Life in America in 1865" that follows after the Epilogue as it provides historical data about the African Americans who went on to survive---or not. It's important that each new generation understand the wrongs done, to ensure that these evil doings don't crop up again. We need to learn from history. Learn what to do and, almost more important, what not to do.
It's the end of the war, but Master and Mistress aren't explaining what it means, not when it will impinge on their own comforts. But one by one, their former slaves are slipping off, leaving Patsy with more and more tasks to learn.
Slowly, slowly, it comes out that Patsy can read. The only one amongst them who can, and when the promised teacher doesn't show or the reverend can't make it, they all turn to Patsy.
Patsy has a limp and stammers and stutters, leading people to think she's slow. You might want to explore Patsy's favorite book, The History of Little Goody Two Shoes and see what it is that attracts her along with A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys that Patsy likes as well.
James is the slave who tends to Master. And I mean everything! Cook---Susan!---is a dab hand at food and with medications. Ruth Johnson and Miriam are house slaves along with Patsy; Nancy is Mistress' personal lady's maid. And slave. Luke is Ruth's son; John is the husband Ruth is hoping will come back for her. Brother Solomon is the headman over the field hands and helps the overseer; he's also the one who puts in the request for school and land. Sister Violet is Brother Solomon's wife. Douglass is a young field hand whom Patsy has her eye on. Richard is a field hand who broke his contract and is forced to return. I wish the Davises had been forced to keep to their contract!
Mistress Davis is her terrified and nasty little owner along with her husband, Thomas Davis, who is only called Master or Sir. Annie and Charles are her niece and nephew who teach Patsy how to read, inadvertently. Sarah is Mistress' cousin coming to stay after their possessions were burned when Columbia was destroyed. Nellie and the Wild One are Sarah's children.
Mister Joe is a freedman who does all sorts of odd jobs. The Reverend Chaplain Henry McNeal is working with the Freedmen's Bureau. He starts a Union League at Davis Hall and talks to the slaves about their rights, reads them the news, and explains how the end of the war affects them.
Mary Ella is Nancy's mother who comes looking for her.
The cover focuses on an oval cutout of Patsy in red kerchief and the shoulder strap of her white shift. The background image is hazed over and depicts a gathering of slaves in the woods overlooking what appears to be a large bay.
The title says it all for this slave girl who wrote in her secret journal that I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl.
Of all the Dear America books, I believe that this one is the most historically accurate, well-written account to date. I especially recommend this book as a superb insight into the plight of "ex"-slaves immediately following the Civil War; this fictional diary shows clearly that the "free" slaves were in many ways no more free than before.
The diary format is believable and well-written here; where the other Dear America books sometimes falter over the diary format, "I Thought My Soul" provides excellent reasoning for why the narrator has access to writing materials and why she keeps her thoughts in a potentially dangerous diary. Young Patsy quietly and aptly describes life on the plantation in the wake of the Civil War: the rising hopes and dreams, and the disappointing crescendo when it becomes clear that their masters intend to treat them the same as before. The slaves are quiet, firm, and resolute as they calmly demanding legal marriages, proper wages, fair education, and the right to raise their own children as they see fit.
The challenges the ex-slaves face are legion, from Southern gangs harassing freemen, to former masters who force illiterate men and women to sign "contracts" which aren't worth the paper they are written on, to Northern 'liberators' who help round up freemen and force them to work off their lodgings before being allowed to leave the plantation. It's made very clear that this new, indentured slavery is indistinguishable from the old slavery.
Patsy slowly, painstakingly, teaches herself to read and write, not unlike the real Phyllis Wheatley. And when the masters refuse to provide a teacher for the young children, despite their "contract" which states otherwise, Patsy teaches the young children herself. The love of learning here is tangible, and serves as a reminder that our privilege of literacy is a privilege indeed.
~ Ana Mardoll
Most recent customer reviews
In this book Pasty or "little teacher," a slave in South Carolina, learns how to read through two white kids when they play a...Read more