Told alternately, by Colleen, an idealistic young white teacher; Frank, a black high school football player; and Evelyn, an experienced black teacher, Freedom Lessons is the story of how the lives of these three very different people intersect in a rural Louisiana town in 1969.
Colleen enters into the culture of the rural Louisiana town with little knowledge of the customs and practices. She is compelled to take sides after the school is integrated―an overnight event for which the town’s residents are unprepared, and which leads to confusion and anxiety in the community―and her values are tested as she seeks to understand her black colleagues, particularly Evelyn. Why doesn’t she want to integrate the public schools? Frank, meanwhile, is determined to protect his mother and siblings after his father’s suspicious death―which means keeping a secret from everyone around him.
Based on the author’s experience teaching in Louisiana in the late sixties, this heartfelt, unflinching novel about the unexpected effects of school integration during that time takes on the issues our nation currently faces regarding race, unity, and identity.
Reviews for the Book
“When 'all deliberate speed' becomes 'all of a sudden,' not much changes. An intermittently potent illustration of the formidable obstacles to equality that remained—and persist—post-Brown v. Board of Education.” —Kirkus Reviews “This powerful tale offers a beacon of hope that individuals can inspire change.” —Library Journal “ . . . a deftly crafted novel that, although a work of fiction, is based on the author Eileen Sanchez' personal experience teaching in Louisiana in the late sixties. Freedom Lessons is heartfelt, unflinching novel, and inherently riveting novel about the unexpected effects of school integration during that time takes on the issues our nation continues to face regarding race, unity, and identity.” —Midwest Book Review “Freedom Lessons is a captivating and well-written story. Reading this book has changed me personally and professionally. The Deep South no doubt plays its role—the further you read in the story, the more hot and humid it starts to feel around you. Eileen succeeds where historians and academics like myself fail—recounting major societal events through the inescapable and complex humanity of her characters. A distinguished educator herself, Eileen fully delivers on the challenge of framing what teaching and learning was during this era, and Freedom Lessons forces us to ask the question of what it should be now.” —Michael R. Hicks, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Education, Centenary College of Louisiana
About the Author: Eileen Harrison Sanchez
Eileen Harrison Sanchez is now retired after a forty-year career in education. She started as a teacher and ended as a district administrator. She has been writing part time for seven years with a writers group in Summit, NJ (www.writerscircleworkshops.com). She is a member of the Historical Writers of America, Historical Novel Society, Philadelphia Stories Writers Community, Goodreads American Historical Novels Group, and several online writers groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. A reader, a writer, and a perennial—a person with a no-age mindset—Sanchez considers family and friends to be the most important parts of her life, followed by traveling and bird watching from her gazebo.
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