I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl, Mars Bluff, South Carolina, 1865
by Joyce Hansen
Dear America Diary Series
Unabridged, 4 hr.
Barbara Rosenblat and Sisi Johnson (Narrator)
July 30, 2005
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Downloaded to audio from my local library
“Patsy, an orphaned slave, has taught herself to read and write on the sly. After the Civil War ends and slavery is abolished, Patsy believes her master will keep his word and pay the former house slaves and provide an education for the slave children. But when Master Davis ignores his promise to establish a school, and the Freedmen’s Bureau can’t send a teacher, Patsy steps in to teach the students, old and young, to read and write.
Patsy’s diary is filled with courage, conviction, and hope as she strives toward freedom—freedom from slavery and freedom from the limitations placed on her by others.”
This book in the series takes place on a plantation in South Carolina just after the end of the Civil War. Patsy, our diary writer, is now a former slave trying to figure out what it means to be “free”. Being free seems to be almost the same as being a slave when many of the things promised to them do not materialize but Patsy is determined to be truly free.
This is truly a coming of age story – but not in your typical way. At the beginning of the book Patsy is quiet and perfectly content to hang out in the background. But as things start to change and she realizes that she has something that all her fellow men and women on the plantation need – the ability to read and write – she begins to find herself much more in demand and important. This happens in a very natural way, given the situation.
This story might be a little more difficult for younger readers to connect with especially if they don’t have a working knowledge of the Pre-Civil War and Reconstruction life for African-Americans. However, if they do have some knowledge of the times, this book gives an insightful view of what a former slave’s life might have been like immediately following the end of slavery.
The narrator did a pretty good job of nailing the manner with which the young Patsy speaks and fills her narration with the feeling of wonder and interest with everything. You really get the feeling that she is whispering her secrets to her journal in a corner like she would wish a friend.
This is author Joyce Hansen’s only book in the Dear America Diary series however she has written several of fiction and non-fiction works. You can visit her website for additional information. If you are looking for further discussion about this book with you children, check out this discussion and activity guide from Scholastic.
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