Book Review: Unbound (A Novel In Verse)
dogtrax, Kevin's Meandering Mind, Feb 06, 2019
This book packs a powerful voice — that of nine-year-old Grace — into its pages, and Ann Burg’s Unbound never lets up. Grace is a slave, sent to the Big House to help, but even her mother and step-father know she will have trouble keeping quiet. Grace is a girl with a mind of her […]

This book packs a powerful voice — that of nine-year-old Grace — into its pages, and Ann Burg’s Unbound never lets up. Grace is a slave, sent to the Big House to help, but even her mother and step-father know she will have trouble keeping quiet. Grace is a girl with a mind of her own, and slavery’s injustice gnaws at her.

In fact, it is Grace’s words that set the story into motion, as she and her family escape the plantation in the night, making a run for Freedom, with a capital “F” even if Grace does not know what or where that is.

Burg’s historical references to the Maroons — communities of escaped slaves that did not head north to Canada or elsewhere, but instead, stayed hidden in the South — is a fascinating piece of forgotten stories, and Grace’s harrowing adventures into the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina remind us of these stories of slaves who risked everything to leave the shackles and to help others along the way.

What resonates is Grace’s inner voice, brought to the surface with talent and compassion and spoken poetry by Burg’s writing. It’s nearly impossible to read Unbound without your heart jumping to save Grace from the violence and struggles of her times, and to give her strength on her journey.

Unbound never loses track of the internal narrative struggles — the doubts, the joy, the love, the worry — of young Grace, even as the novel reminds us of yet another chapter of our country’s horrible past and the yearning of those in chains to be free.

As Burg noted in her Author’s Notes at the end of Unbound:

The choice to brave the wilderness rather than suffer the brutality and humiliation of bondage is a towering testimony of an oppressed people who risked everything for the chance to be free.

Peace (and Freedom),
Kevin