cover image Freewater


Amina Luqman-Dawson. Little, Brown, $16.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-316-05661-8

Based on the real-life Great Dismal Swamp, where enslaved people sought refuge from plantation life, Luqman-Dawson’s engrossing historical fiction novel follows enslaved Black siblings 12-year-old Homer and seven-year-old Ada after their escape from Southerland Plantation and its white overseer. An encounter with plantation raider Suleman results in the children being taken to swamp haven Freewater, a lush forest peopled with individuals who escaped slavery and who keep watch for possible invaders. Making her children’s debut, Luqman-Dawson populates the town with richly rendered characters, including Freewater-born Juna, who has never seen a white person, and her sister Sanzi, a tough but unseasoned fighter who looks up to Suleman and wants to do her part to help the people of Freewater. When the town’s inhabitants undertake a liberation effort, the characters must build courage and overcome their fears in this vividly written, wholly accessible novel of enslavement and resistance. Back matter includes an author’s note describing the true history behind Freewater. Ages 8–12. Agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Jr. (Feb.)