“The thing I don’t understand about freedom is…can they really take it away from you? And if, inside you, where it matters, you think you are free, doesn’t that count for something? Does it have to be legislated to be real?” These questions consume Luli, the 13-year-old narrator of Come Juneteenth, in a very personal way during the final months of the Civil War. Fearful of financial ruin and a slave uprising, Texas plantation owners, including Luli’s family, keep news of Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation from their slaves for nearly two years.
The hardest part for Luli is not telling Sis Goose. Technically a slave owned by Luli’s aunt, 16-year-old Sis Goose was raised from birth as a member of the family, as Luli’s beloved sister. When the Yankees arrive in Texas, Sis Goose learns of the horrible deception and is devastated. The heartbreaking consequences of the shameful fraud will stun readers. In the author’s note, Rinaldi tells how these characters and their story haunted her for years before she wrote it. The questions and dilemmas raised in this riveting and powerful story will haunt her readers as well.
Patricia Loverich ©2007 Parents’ Choice
Patricia Loverich is a young adult librarian at the Arlington (VA) Public Library. She lives and reads in Arlington with her husband, her 16–year–old son, and her 13–year–old dog.