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Reviewer rating

Format reviewed: Audio
Ready by Bahni Turpin
3 hours and 32 minutes


Old Dominion

Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg


Time Period:



Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia and North Carolina
1800s, pre-civil war
Great Dismal Swamp, Slavery, Tobacco plantations
passionate, defiant, fearful, tense

Many books about slavery mention the Underground Railroad as an aid to helping slaves reach the northern states which had abolished slavery.  Unbound is interesting since it focuses on people who escaped slavery but who did not make it to the north.  In doing research for her novel, Ann Burg referenced Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938, which contains over 2,000 first-person accounts from former slaves.  

This story is told by 9-year-old Grace who lives in the slave quarters of a tobacco plantation with her mother and 2 brothers. Because of her light skin, she is sent to the Big House to become a house slave.  Once there her outspokenness angers the Missus who decides to sell her mother and brothers to teach her a lesson.  In an effort to save her family, she must warn them to take their chances and run away.  Readers will learn about the Underground Railroad, the Great Dismal Swamp, paddy rollers (slave patrollers), and the many ways slaves helped runaways escape.

Another great audiobook set in Virginia:
* Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry.  History Focus: The wild horses on Assateague Island and the yearly Pony Penning Day.

virginia state bird
Northern Cardinal
virginia state flower
Flowering Dogwood
virginia state tree
Flowering Dogwood
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