Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge | Book Review

Libertie is a moving, coming of age story in NYC after the Civil War era. Race, class, and familial bonds are the main focus in this riveting read!

Libertie: Book Information

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Source: ebook through publisher
Release Date: March 30, 2021

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Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, who can pass, Libertie has skin that is too dark.

When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come.

Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new novel resonates in our times and is perfect for readers of Brit Bennett, Min Jin Lee, and Yaa Gyasi.

Libertie: Author Information

Libertie author Kaitlyn Greenidge

Kaitlyn Greenidge’s debut novel is We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books), one of the New York Times Critics’ Top 10 Books of 2016. Her writing has appeared in Vogue, Glamour, the Wall Street Journal,, Buzzfeed, Transition Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, American Short Fiction and other places. Kaitlyn is the recipient of fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study other places. She was a contributing editor for LENNY Letter and is currently a contributing writer for The New York Times. Her second novel, Libertie, will be published by Algonquin Books on March 30, 2021. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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My Review

Libertie is a free born Black woman, destined to follow her mother’s footsteps. Dr. Catherine Sampson is a Black female physician, and Libertie learns from her as she matures. Cathy wants her daughter to lead a life of medicine; however, mother and daughter face a divide based on skin tone. Libertie endures discrimination based on her skin tone, while Cathy avoids this barrier due to a lighter skin tone.

Libertie’s story takes us across several regions in the US and to the Caribbean. She searches for strength as a young, ambitious Black woman. She tells her story through poetry and song. Familial bonds are put to the ultimate test as Libertie longs to connect through her emotion and wants out of life.

While reading Libertie, I was swept up by the historical events of the US after the Civil War era. Both Libertie and Cathy fight to make their names established, while struggling to maintain their bonds as mother and daughter. This is definitely a captivating Historical Fiction tale!

Thank you so much to Algonquin Books for the gifted copy!

Contact Cathleen!

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