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If you’ve ever believed the brutal racism of Reconstruction-era U.S. was limited to the South, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s second novel will disabuse you of that notion with brutal conviction. Libertie follows Libertie Sampson, a free-born young Black woman in Brooklyn who grew up under the shadow of her physician mother—a character based on Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first Black woman to earn a medical degree in New York. Motivated by a passion for writing and a strong desire to take ownership of her life, Libertie defies her mother’s expectations and goes away to study literature in college, before eventually moving to Haiti with a man who wants to marry her. What she discovers, though, is that freedom is a nuanced idea that can be limited in many ways within her own community, which she experiences firsthand while navigating colorism, classism and sexism. Libertie is a stirring and powerful piece of historical fiction exploring themes that still resonate today.

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