The Freedom Maze

The Freedom Maze

by Delia Sherman

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"Multilayered, compassionate, and thought-provoking." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Thirteen-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about spending the summer of 1960 at her grandmother’s old house in the bayou. Bored and lonely, she can’t resist exploring the house’s maze, or making an impulsive wish for a fantasy-book adventure with herself as the heroine. What she gets instead is a real adventure: a trip back in time to 1860 and the race-haunted world of her family’s Louisiana sugar plantation. Here, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is still two years in the future and passage of the Thirteenth Amendment is almost four years away. And here, Sophie is mistaken, by her own ancestors, for a slave.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763669805
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 01/07/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 443,538
Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 10 Years

About the Author

Delia Sherman was born in Japan and raised in New York City but spent vacations with relatives in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Her work has appeared most recently in the young adult anthologies The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People; Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories; and Teeth: Vampire Tales. Her novels for younger readers include Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. She lives in New York City.

I grew up in New York City, but when I was little, we spent most of our vacations with my mother’s family in Texas and Louisiana. It was before most people had air conditioning, so I have a lot of memories of still, thick nights when it was too hot to sleep, listening to the cicadas fiddling away outside and making up stories in my head. I always liked to write, but it never occurred to me that I could do it as a profession. I loved reading and talking about books, so I studied literature in college and graduate school. When I began teaching school in Boston, during my office hours, if no students showed up, I wrote stories full of folklore and history and old ballads. Eventually, one of them turned into my first novel, and I was off and running. Now I’m living in New York City again, where I go to cafes to write, because they have good chai and I like to people-watch when I can’t think of the next sentence.

My first Candlewick book, The Freedom Maze, took me just about forever to write—eighteen years, in fact, although I wrote (and finished) several other things while I was working on it. The story began with a dream. I was looking out my window at a garden and a maze that weren’t there in waking life. Somehow I knew they existed in the past and were part of something important. Figuring out what that was took me a while, as did discovering Sophie and her family. It’s a good thing I like researching almost as much as I like making up characters, because researching plantation life in slavery times took me even longer, and involved everything from dusty archives to driving back roads in Louisiana looking for ruined slave quarters. Getting them all to come together took me longest of all, but I loved making Sophie’s story all it wanted to be.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:

1. I was born in Japan and my first word was “mizu” (Japanese for “water”) even though I’m not Japanese, not even a little.
2. The first summer I went to sleepaway camp, I won a prize (invented, I think, just for me) for reading every book in the camp library.
3. I celebrated my nineteenth birthday in a yurt in Outer Mongolia.

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The Freedom Maze: a novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely wonderful. Fascinating and engrossing, it tells the story of Sophie, who gets transported from the 1960s deep South to the 1880s where her tan leads her to be taken for a slave. Somehow Delia happens to catch every level of the story from Sophie's personal growth to each area of slave life and what it does to the individuals, not just the slaves, showing how it corrupts the psyches of the owners and the other whites who work there. By the end of the book, Sophie has grown stronger and found what freedom really means. It's for ALL ages.
Nancy_W More than 1 year ago
This is a riveting, fearless, and masterful novel. And I loved its heroine, Sophie, completely. -Nancy Werlin
ksprings More than 1 year ago
This review was first published on Kurt's Frontier. Winner of the 2012 Andre Norton Award Synopsis: In the summer of 1960, thirteen-year-old Sophie Martineau is recovering from her parents’ divorce. Her mother takes her to stay at her grandmother’s old house in the bayou. Her mother is still bitter from the divorce and looking to start a new life. Sophie’s boredom draws her to the house’s maze. Inside the maze, she meets a strange creature. Impulsively, she makes a wish for a fantasy book adventure. The reality is a real adventure, with all the unpleasantness real adventures entail. The creature sends Sophie back in time to 1860 to the Louisiana sugar plantation that her ancestors once owned. This is a year before the start of the War Between the States, two-and-a-half years before the Emancipation Proclamation, and four years from the Thirteenth Amendment. She needs to find the reason the creature dropped her here. Worse, her ancestors mistake Sophie as one of their slaves. Review: The Freedom Maze is an interesting adventure from the pen of Delia Sherman. It is not my usual fare. As my readers know, my tastes run more toward action and adventure. That said, I found myself surprised that this book was quite engaging. A wish sends Sophie back in time for an adventure. Her adventure comprises living life as a slave. She meets the kindness and spitefulness of both the masters and the slaves. She quickly adapts to not having Twentieth Century conveniences and slowly wins over the slaves who see her as a stranger and too white. The white masters are much harder to win over. The mystery Sophie must solve is to discover the purpose for which the creature brought her to this place and time. Once I got into the book, it proved to be much more enjoyable than I expected.
Zumbanista on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An Engaging YA Historical FantasyI received this e-book via LibraryThing Early Reviewers program which provides free books in exchange for a review.Ostensibly a Young Adult book, this novel kept me turning pages right until the end. The author does a superb job integrating the various threads of historical fiction and fantasy within a coming of age tale. The teenaged protagonist, Sophie, was written authentically as naïve, stubborn, and rebellious. The mother/daughter and other family relationships are well defined. Sophie¿s character matures substantially after her time travel adventures (or, more accurately, her misadventures). The primary and supporting characters are well-drawn and while some border on being stereotypes, the majority are, for the most part, believable. Initially, the fantasy aspect of the book seemed jarring to me, but then, there would have to be a way to explain Sophie¿s ability to time travel to her ancestral plantation home and back again. As the story unfolded, my concerns disappeared as Ms. Sherman does an excellent job encapsulating the fantastical elements within the African healing myths and rituals.At the back of the book, the author states the novel was written over an 18-year period. I applaud her persistence as it has paid off in a provocative novel that somehow manages to pull the reader in as the story progresses. The exhaustive research shines through and the writing never gets in the way of the storyline. Any book about slavery is necessarily tragic, but Ms. Sherman is able to write an interesting tale without making it too dark for younger readers. I recommend Freedom Maze for readers of any age.
gildedspine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the type of book that makes me want to smack myself - mainly because I've had it loaded and ready to read for so long, and completely overlooked it. By now, you've probably gotten the idea that I enjoy historical fantasy. That's an understatement. I adore historical fantasy.(That's why I'm writing one, but that's beside the point.)This is a time-traveling adventure, but not the sugar-coated, carefully distant and sans dabbling in the past fare that you've probably had in the past. Sophie, a repressed, henpecked thirteen-year-old who has always considered herself the average white girl, is in for a surprise when she's sent back in time by a mischievous "duppy" (spirit)...and becomes a slave.It's always been imprinted in her mind that being part of her long, grand family is a privilege. But now, on the wrong side of the family tree, Sophie is able to see firsthand the sickening side of slavery. It was this aspect of the story that makes me feel as though (despite the lack of graphic information) this book is suited for late middle-grade and early YA, rather than any younger readers.Slave girls being assaulted by their masters is a harsh truth of what went on during the golden days of the South. There were much worse conclusions than what Sherman seamlessly turns around into a happy ending (thankfully for me, because as much as I love cold, hard facts, I was really attached to Sophie and her extended family - well, some of them at least). It's a truth that is not often touched upon, and I appreciate that an author actually took that in hand, instead of choosing the sweeping skirts and romance of Southern Belles a la Scarlett O' Hara.Warnings: Some trigger subjects, especially if you grew up during the Civil Rights Movement/are descended from former slaves yourself. If you really want to share this with a younger reader, be sure to prepare them before-hand. That's my personal opinion.Final verdict: There is a happy ending - and, on Sophie's part, a hopeful one. Just keep that in mind before you decide not to read it.
sarahwriter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Full disclosure: Not only do I know Delia, but I've been watching and reading this book as it developed over years. Delia Sherman has written wonderful books--check out THE PORCELAIN DOVE, her New York Between modern fairytales, and her collaborations with Ellen Kushner--but this one is special beyond anything she's written before. Sophie Fairchild, only child of a thoughtlessly loveless mother, is left at the old family plantation for the summer. Exploring the house and grounds, she meets a mysterious being, wishes for an adventure--and finds herself in the same house just before the Civil War. But she's no longer the daughter of the house. With her modern tan, she's taken for a slave. This is young adult adventure with adult intelligence and bite, and a compassion that becomes fully clear only at the surprising end. Give it to a bright eleven-year-old. Give it to your mom. Give it to yourself and all your friends. THE FREEDOM MAZE is a wonderful, wonderful read.
rutabega on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A well-written time travel novel. The portion of the book written in the 1860s is perhaps the most compelling -- the 1960s sections travel typical routes for this kind of book. One of the things I appreciated most about the narrative was the fact that adults are resolutely not nice, regardless of the century they live in -- indeed, there is no neat and clean ending of reconciliation and understanding between the protagonist and her family.
catalogermom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It reminded me of my favorite classics of fantasy children's literature like E. Nesbit and Edward Eager. But enjoyment might not be the right term. There are several levels to this book due to its subject matter. A child is sent back in time by a trickster spirit to her family plantation. There she is seen as a slave and treated as such ... but not quite. As a reader, I wanted to be able to sink into the story and enjoy the tale but in the back of my mind, I kept wondering if this was the best vehicle to tell such a story, about privilege, who was this story's audience and so on. The book is vivid and engrossing, troubling and disturbing as it should be. If Sherman wanted to her audience to think hard, she succeeded with this reader.
bpompon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I was a kid I found history lessons to be incredibly dull. However, I have always loved to read historical fiction. After reading such a book, I have often been spurred to find out how much of the book is based on fact. I was happy to receive a Early Reviewer copy of The Freedom Maze. This is the type of book that would¿ve sent me on a quest to find out more about both the 60¿s and the Civil War era.I loved this book. It covers the realities of slavery in a way that kids can handle without sugar coating it too much. It also points out the cultural attitudes of many people in the south during the 60s. The book definitely left me wanting more. I would love to see a sequel that takes the family into the Civil War.
avatiakh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a highly enjoyable timeslip/coming of age novel set in Louisiana. At first I found it a little hard to get into, as Sophie's character and relationship first with her mother, then the other family members is being established and it is all a little dysfunctional. Once the timeslip occurred I became quite engrossed in the narrative and couldn't turn the pages fast enough. It's 1960 and 14 year old Sophie is to stay the summer with her aunt and grandmother who live in an old cottage, all that remains of the vast plantation estate that the family owned over 100 years ago. A trickster spirit slips Sophie 100 years into the past, to 1860. With her tanned skin and family resemblance she is accepted as the newly arrived illegitimate biracial daughter of the owner's New Orleans based son. At first she is put to work as a servant in the household, living among the other slaves and over the weeks that follow Sophie learns much about privilege and freedom.Recommended for younger teen readers.This was my first Early Reviewer book .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is must read for everyone. It gives a very real view of slavery and the South. If you enjoyed 12 Years a Slave you should read this book.
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