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A Kind of Freedom: A Novel by Margaret…
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A Kind of Freedom: A Novel

by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

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10513162,576 (3.88)12

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Following the lives of two black sisters in New Orleans, the novel tells of story of race, of hope, of despair as we watch the two sisters age, their children become mothers, and the grandchildren growing up. It was sad, and yet, at the end I had a feeling of hope. ( )
  brangwinn | Jun 19, 2018 |
I would have preferred a focus on one generation rather than three. I found this a very frustrating book because just as I was becoming interested in one story the author would switch to a different set of characters. Usually perspective jumping doesn't bother me, but I just could not get into sync with this book. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
This is the multi-generational story of a black family in New Orleans from before World War II until after Hurricane Katrina. The World War II sections focus on Evelyn, the daughter of a well-respected doctor and a member of New Orleans's black aristocracy. She falls in love with Reynard, a man below her social status.

In the sections set during the 1980's, the focus is on Jackie, the daughter of Evelyn and Reynard. Her husband is struggling with crack addiction, and she is attempting to raise her son essentially on her own. Her sister Sybil is a successful attorney.

The parts set after Katrina focus on T.C., Jackie's son, now a young man. He has just been released from prison, determined to do well for the sake of his unborn child, although a friend convinces him to make one last killing from his talent at growing marijuana before going straight.

Each older generation appears in and plays an important part in the sections focusing on the younger generations. In Jackie's sections, we see Evelyn and Reynard from an entirely different pov than they appear in the World War II sections, and in T.C.'s sections we see Evelyn and Reynard, and Jackie as T.C. sees them. I really liked getting to know the various characters from multiple points of view. And while there is lots of plot going on, this is basically a novel of characterization. All sorts of relationships are explored, husband/wife, mother/daughter, sister/sister, and so on. In addition, although it mostly stays in the background and does not interfere with the novelistic aspects of this book, there is lots about the big issues of race relations, particularly the racial disparities over a long period of time, and the problem of the criminalization of drugs and the resulting over-imprisonment of black youth.

Highly recommended.

3 1/2 stars ( )
1 vote arubabookwoman | Mar 19, 2018 |
I won this in a GOODREADS giveaway sponsored by Counterpoint Press. ( )
  tenamouse67 | Jan 6, 2018 |
“The best time to start was yesterday...”

I believe that had I read Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's debut novel ten years ago—even five—I would've been ecstatic, in love. There's so much weight to this book, and with its finely drawn characters, A Kind of Freedom demands attention. It is a wonderful, multi-generational story. Each generation lives amongst devastation and beauty. Each generation gives voice to hope and resignation. And through the eyes of each generation, we see a city rise and fall.

Sexton's writing here reminds me most of Gloria Naylor's. A Kind of Freedom is an intense story of dreams deferred by discrimination and poverty. Sexton's vivid depiction addresses many social issues that together weave a tapestry of injustice. She delves into the psychology of this family and the city. Yet, like Naylor's stories, A Kind of Freedom does not lose sight of the story at the center of the novel. Add to this Sexton's stunning portrait of New Orleans; the setting may be considered an additional character.

“...the next best time is now.”

While I greatly enjoyed A Kind of Freedom, I didn't fall in love. And this is merely, or so I believe, because I hadn't read it sooner in life. The story has many qualities I love, but it doesn't surprise me, not does it capture my heart the same way other similar stories have. I think this may have most to do with characters who were not developed as fully as they could've been. Evelyn, Jackie, and T.C. are all great characters, but I know that I could've spent more time in the mind of each. That said, T.C. was nearly perfect and he was certainly the most unforgettable of the three. With the others, I felt more like an observer to their trials, but with T.C. I was there, inside.

A Kind of Freedom is a good novel that I think could've been made stronger with another hundred pages to flesh out some of these characters. New Orleans and T.C. are both very compelling, but there's something missing from the rest of the story that kept me distant. That something may be a generational connection (T.C. is my closest contemporary), but I think it has more to do with really delving into the soul of these characters. Keep in mind that I'm a very character-driven reader and that I place great emphasis on character development. As far as plot, A Kind of Freedom is a very tightly and neatly written story. Most readers looking for a captivating and insightful story will be greatly pleased with this one. ( )
  chrisblocker | Dec 25, 2017 |
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For my mother, who also cheered
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Later, Evelyn would look back and remember that she wasn't the one who noticed Renard first.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Revolving around the city of New Orleans, this "debut spans three generations in a city deeply impacted by segregation, economic inequality, and racial tensions"--Amazon.com.

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