Virgil Moody vows to never be like his father, a slaveowner. But when he falls in love with a slave and moves with her to New Orleans, he maintains her slave status even after she gives birth to their child—a son named Lucas who is ultimately taken from them, forcing Moody to search for him in a country on the brink of civil war.
Forgiveness is not easy, nor is the story that Grady tells. It is dark and painful, each injustice suffered by the slaves more grievous than the last. But at a time when racism and violence is still tearing at America—and Canada—it is a timely story that sheds light on how far we have and have not come. It is also a deeply personal story for Grady, who was inspired by his own family history in its telling. In the hands of Grady, who wrote eight books of non-fiction before turning his hand to fiction, the story is a deeply layered story well told.
The real crux of the story is: what is freedom? What does it mean to be free? The book drags a bit in the middle but the writing is elegant and the characters plausible. The author does not digress or meander into irrelevancy. He gives a view of rural and urban life that is accurate and describes the unrest and unease that is upon the country; this unrest will erupt, as we know, into the Civil War. I recommend Up From Freedom, for those who like history. I didn’t know much of about this period in history and the book piqued my curiosity. This is a novel for those who like to wrestle with the big questions of life—about freedom, the morally right things to do, and becoming a better human being.
All the complexity of race and relationships is laid out in Grady’s novel ... This is a moving and eye-opening reminder of history’s deep scars. In the best tradition of Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead, Grady brings home the truth that there are no simplistic ways to combat and overcome deep-rooted hate and fear.