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#HistFicThursdays - On Bur Oak Ridge - Jenny Knipfer - Book Excerpt

  Today, I'm delighted to hosting Jenny Knipfer once more, this time with the next book in her Sheltering Trees series: On Bur Oak Ridge . I'm sharing a short extract, but first, let's meet the book... “The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intrigued…to the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith.” Readers’ Favorite five-star review  A HISTORICAL NOVEL OF FINDING HEALING AND A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsons’ farm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face.  Samuel Woodson, the Nelsons’ hired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuel – seeing past Molly’s scars – draws her out of her self-protective shell.  Molly and Samuel form a frie

#HistFicThursdays - Freedom For Me: A Chinese Yankee - Stacie Haas - Book Review


I've always been interested in Americana, although that comes in waves, so occasionally I'll be poring over the biographies of various presidents and then the following week my fascination has waned completely. It does mean that I was reasonably familiar with the Civil War background of the book, which made me very enthusiastic to read it.

It is grounded in American history - and of course it should be: Freedom for Me is inspired by the true story of a young Chinese man who signed up to fight for the north in the American Civil War. More than complex military strategy or groundbreaking historical moments, this is the story of one boy's decision to fight, and how his reasons for fighting mature and develop over time.

I loved reading about how Thomas, the main character, began to learn about himself in the context of others. His closest relationship is with his brother, but he develops deep and meaningful friendships with his brothers-in-arms and with an runaway slave, Sam. The characters were well-developed and rounded, and I found it fascinating how Thomas became closer to - the quite frankly loathsome - Henry as time went by.

Character development drives this story and, despite it being set in the 1860s, young people reading it today will find that it still resonates. This is the story of learning who you are and what can drive you to do incredible things. But it's also the story of how racism seeps into everyday life and just what a complex issue it really is.

Occasionally the plotline was predictable (or maybe I should just own-up to having read so many of these brothers-in-arms stories that I can point to a character from the first time you meet them and say "yep, they're not making it to the end of the book") but this doesn't in any way hamper the enjoyment of Freedom For Me. If I had to mention one little niggle, it would be the use of "ya" instead of "you" - absolutely fine but it was occasionally inconsistent. Still, not enough to spoil the enjoyment of what is a lovely but challenging read.

In summary, book which does justice to the many individuals who fought in the American Civil War, and which addresses friendship and camaraderie in a way which never shies away from big issues.


Civil War is raging in America and fifteen-year-old Thomas Beck doesn’t quite fit in. He’s neither black nor white, slave nor free, and yet, Thomas dreams of becoming a Yankee and joining the fight for freedom. After successfully sneaking into the Union Army, Thomas gets his wish, but he’s a Chinese Yankee—different in looks and hairstyle, but not in heart. Finding himself unwelcome by either blue or gray, Thomas forms an unlikely friendship with a runaway slave as the fight moves toward a pivotal moment in Gettysburg.

Freedom for Me is a historical novel based on a real Chinese Yankee, one of only a few who served in the American Civil War. Children’s Literary Classics award winner for coming-of-age and historical fiction and a Skipping Stones honoree for multicultural teen fiction.

You can find the book on Amazon

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