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Living Half Free by Haley Whitehall

Living Half Free (edition 2012)

by Haley Whitehall

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Title:Living Half Free
Authors:Haley Whitehall
Info:Expanding Horizons Press (2012), Paperback, 334 pages
Collections:Your library

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Living Half Free by Haley Whitehall

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    Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill (Anonymous user)

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Living Half Free is a powerful book that puts you face-to-face with the Civil War era by experiencing slavery through the eyes of Zachariah. Just like any man he has hopes and dreams for a better future, but as a slave he never believed he would see them. When he meets a Cherokee woman fighting for her own freedom within her reservation he finally has hope of his dreams coming true, but will his past ever truly let him go?

This book is historically accurate to the social relationships of the time and contains racial slurs and violence. ( )
  RegiB | Jan 22, 2013 |
If you’re offended by harsh racial epithets and violence, you might not want to read Living Half Free, a first novel by Haley Whitehall. Set in the South before, during, and after the Civil War, it tells the story of Zachariah, a very light skinned black who is held in slavery, and who is sold away from his family, and taken from Virginia into the deep South, where he faces harshness and bigotry worse than he’s ever encountered.
Over time, he earns his freedom and meets a young Indian woman, Lillian, and the two fall in love. Able to pass himself off as white, he’s able to live with Lillian on the reservation, until the arrival of the sadistic son of his second master uncovers his identity. Zachariah then learns that prejudice runs just as deep among the Indians as the whites and is forced to accept being put back into slavery to save Lillian from the tribe’s harsh punishment. Lillian uses her wiles to free him once again, and the two of them flee to California where the prejudice is less.
As you follow Zachariah through his life, beginning in Strasburg, Virginia in 1838, to San Francisco in 1867, you will be alternately moved and repulsed; moved at how his strong faith helps him survive the severest of conditions, and repulsed at the depths of depravity to which some people can sink in their treatment of others.
This is a great story, only a bit in parts by what is difficult for even the most experienced writers – dialect that sometimes doesn’t ring quite true. Dialect, when written, depends on the reader’s pronunciation to be rendered, and having grown up in the South in the 50s and 60s, when some people still spoke much like they did during the 19th century, as well as being a writer and teacher of English, I found some of the words and sentences a bit difficult to comprehend, and not like I recall old people of my childhood talking. The author can be forgiven, though; this is one of the most difficult skills to master, and some of us never truly get it. Once you get past these few glitches, though, you’ll find this a good read, for a first timer who I predict will get better with time. ( )
  Charles_Ray | Jan 21, 2013 |
One of my favourite books of all time is The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, and when I received a free copy of Living Half Free, I anticipated being disappointed given that this is Haley Whitehall's first book, and I assumed that it would pale in comparison. I was sorely wrong. This book captivated me right from the start and I simply couldn't put it down. The story of Zachariah, a slave in the 1800's, is heart-wrenching and filled with rich details of the struggles and atrocities that slaves were subjected to. But it also demonstrates that among the brutal masters, there were some who showed kindness and fairness, which gave an interesting perspective to the story. All in all, this was an extremely well-written book with realistic dialogue and well-developed characters. My only complaint is that it was a bit short - I could have read on for another hundred pages or so, perhaps learning more about Ma and Rachel or about the other slaves in Zachariah's life. But that being said, I would highly recommend this book. ( )
  rivergen | Dec 24, 2012 |
I received this book in exchange for a review. This was a difficult book to read. The honesty of how slaves were treated is shattering. To think that human beings were treated that way is horrific. Zachariah is a good character who does his best what is for the most part a bad situation. The book is well written and thought provoking. This should be assigned reading for high school American history students ( )
  KathleenMcC | Dec 22, 2012 |
An intriguing story, and a great read. I was really captivated by Zachariah's story, it really keeps you reading.

One thing I really liked about the book is that it tells of slavery, but also tells of native Americans in the early reservations. I really didn't know much about the ideas of native Americans on slavery, so I found it very interesting to read about this. The novel is very descriptive, and really brings the characters and the era to life. Though I do wonder if the story could actually have occured, it is quite convincing.
It really leaves you with something to think about. The situation of a slave who is white, but treated as black makes you wonder about what the colour of skin really means, and the fact that Zachary is respected as long as nobody knows his descent shows how strange it really is that people judge others purely based on race. Zacharies thoughts on slavery really show how important freedom is, even if your 'master' treats you well.

A very enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to reading more of Whitehall's work. ( )
  Britt84 | Dec 22, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0985182814, Paperback)

When Zachariah, a naïve mulatto slave, is sold to a Kentucky slave trader, and separated from his ma and sister, he realizes the true meaning of not having rights. Singled out for abuse by his new master’s sadistic son, he dreams of only one thing: escape. He thinks he’s found it when he falls in love with a Cherokee woman from a powerful family, under whose direction he learns to pass as white. But it’s not long before he discovers that freedom that’s based on a lie will only get him so far. While struggling to find his place in the world, he also wrestles within his heart to realize his faith. This faith is tested when his slave past catches up with him, and threatens everyone he cares for. He must decide whether slavery is the price he’s willing to pay for his family’s freedom.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:22 -0400)

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