On Barb’s Bookshelf: The Other Side of Freedom

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Cynthia T. Toney’s historical novel for teens, The Other Side of Freedom, shows the seamy side of Prohibition-era organized crime from the perspective of a young man whose family becomes its unwitting victims. Finally — good historical fiction that will appeal to male and female readers alike.

other side of freedom

In 1920s Louisiana, Sal struggles with questions of right and wrong as an organized-crime ring forces family members into involvement with bootlegging, with heartbreaking results. Keeping the secret will keep Sal and his parents alive, but is it worth the cost of losing contact with friends and his beloved uncle?

Sal and his best friend Antonina take great risks to uncover the mystery surrounding the crime ring. Aided by Hiram, a young African-American farmhand who faces further obstacles caused by the segregation of the time, Sal and Antonina refuse to be intimidated by the crime ring, even after it becomes evident that the criminals are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.

One detail in this novel that particularly fascinated me was the presence of Italian immigrants in Louisiana during this time period. I grew up in northern New Jersey, and my own community had a large influx of immigrants from Italy in the early twentieth century. In fact, a local Italian-American family (only two blocks from where I would later live) provided their home as the center of a labor dispute in 1913. I did not know that besides settling in the Northeast (New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey), Italian immigrants also settled in Minnesota, Louisiana, Indiana and California, according to the map found at Italian Immigration to America.

I love how the cover image focuses on the very worried eyes of the young man in this novel. The Other Side of Freedom is highly recommended for middle-school readers and young teens studying this period of American history. This would make a terrific classroom read or summer-reading option.


Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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On Barb’s Bookshelf: 3 Great Christmas Reads

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Because Christmas is a season, not just a day, you don’t have to put away the Christmas novels and stories after December 25. Reading books set at Christmas is a great way to keep the season going. Here are 3 books by Catholic authors–I’ve enjoyed them all. The first two are historical fiction, the third a contemporary novella.

working motherWorking Mother by Erin McCole Cupp is a well-researched piece of short fiction in which the Holy Family, in exile in Egypt after King Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, faces a crisis after Joseph is injured at work. Living hand-to-mouth in a refugee camp, Mary seizes an opportunity to help support her family while Joseph recovers from his injury. This story speaks to the devotion of the Blessed Mother for her son and for her husband. Read my full review here.

 

diaries of joseph and maryThe Diaries of Joseph and Mary by Dennis P. McGeehan invites the reader to journey with Mary and Joseph from their early childhoods until Jesus sets out for his baptism at the hands of his cousin. These fictional diaries allow the reader to peek into the minds and hearts of Jesus’ mother and foster father. Read my full review here.

 

 

boys upstairsThe Boys Upstairs by Jane Lebak is an uplifting Christmas tale of transformation for two brothers: a priest who’s a disabled war veteran and who takes in boys who are living on the streets and a police officer who’s seen more than his share of holiday tragedies. Their own rough start in life leads them to find ways to be strong for others in crisis.

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