Saturday, March 12, 2016

MacColl, Michaela, and Rosemary Nichols. Freedom’s Price.

MacColl, Michaela, and Rosemary Nichols.  Freedom’s Price.  Boyd's Mills/Calkins Creek  2015  221p  $17.95  ISBN 978-1-62091-624-7  ms  Historical fiction VG   

There is a craft involved in writing historical fiction that authors MacColl and Nichols have finely tuned in Freedom’s Price.  First, they chose a basic plot that has been dealt with before, the feelings of a child who is enslaved during pre-Civil War times, but they made it their own by focusing on the Dred Scott family and its trials and tribulations while awaiting the court decision that would determine its freedom.  Next, they creatively wrote from Eliza Scott’s perspective, weaving various “imagined” conflicts into her day-to-day existence and developing her character fully and believably.  Finally, they thought about fans of historical fiction and what they like.  True fans want character development in the secondary characters as well as in the protagonist.  They also want well-developed conflicts, and a rich variety of them: man versus self, man versus man, and man versus nature.  This book abounds in all three kinds of conflict, as Eliza tries to reconcile her own feelings about freedom and what it means to her, and when she faces a slave hunter named Bartlett and a scoundrel named Mark Charless who wants to abduct her and use her as his own slave.  Finally, the conflict of man versus nature rears up when Eliza faces a cholera outbreak, the hidden dangers of the mighty Mississippi, and a fire that threatens to kill her.  Despite repeated warnings from her family, she steps forward, offering to work for  Miss Charlotte as a caregiver to Aunt Sofia.  However, that situation places Eliza right back into the “fire,” since Mark Charless is Miss Charlotte’s son.  In a book that has female empowerment as its theme, Eliza Scott shines in her leading role.    

Summary: Dred Scott’s daughter confronts her starring role in history as a proponent for the rights of slaves, often finding herself in the quagmire of having to keep silent, however much that conflicts with her true character.     

Dred Scott Decision-Fiction                           --Martha Squaresky

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