Read Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg Online


From the award-winning author of All the Broken Pieces and Serafina's Promise comes a new novel-in-verse that is a gripping, transcendent story about a little-known piece of slave history. The day Grace is called from the slave cabins to work in the Big House, Mama makes her promise to keep her eyes down. Uncle Jim warns her to keep her thoughts tucked private in her mindFrom the award-winning author of All the Broken Pieces and Serafina's Promise comes a new novel-in-verse that is a gripping, transcendent story about a little-known piece of slave history. The day Grace is called from the slave cabins to work in the Big House, Mama makes her promise to keep her eyes down. Uncle Jim warns her to keep her thoughts tucked private in her mind or they could bring a whole lot of trouble and pain.But the more Grace sees of the heartless Master and hateful Missus, the more a rightiness voice clamors in her head-asking how come white folks can own slaves, sell them on the auction block, and separate families forever. When that voice escapes without warning, it sets off a terrible chain of events that prove Uncle Jim's words true. Suddenly, Grace and her family must flee deep into the woods, where they brave deadly animals, slave patrollers, and the uncertainty of ever finding freedom.With candor and compassion, Ann E. Burg unearths a startling chapter of American history -- the remarkable story of runaways who sought sanctuary in the wilds of the Great Dismal Swamp -- and creates a powerful testament to the right of every human to be free....

Title : Unbound: A Novel in Verse
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780545934275
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 347 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Unbound: A Novel in Verse Reviews

  • Starjustin
    2019-06-07 19:08

    Unbound: A Novel in Verse depicts the life of a 9 year old girl, born into slavery. In this fictional novel, the reader follows Grace and her family through trials and tribulations they must endure on the road to freedom. A quick read book that I would recommend to anyone. A very captivating story from beginning to end.

  • Mischenko
    2019-06-10 13:05

    I'll start by saying this book was amazing! My daughter made me read it. It's juvenile fiction, but what an amazing story about a family who would risk everything to escape slavery. It's a novel written in verse so it's a fairly quick read. I was in all the way until the end and didn't want to put it down. The only problem I had was wanting to know what happened to some of the characters at the end of the story. You're left to wonder just like Gracie. I would recommend this book to anyone! 5 *****

  • Richard Denney
    2019-06-16 17:16

    5 STARS!!!This was such a beautiful and heartbreaking read. Grace is such a strong and heroic character and I loved reading from her POV in verse. I'm not sure what year this takes place in but know it's about slavery and in some parts of the country it's been abolished but in Virginia, where this story takes place it hasn't been taken care of yet, which is the reason Grace and her family are considered runaway slaves and are trying to get to freedom, wherever that may be. In short, if you're looking for something that will tug at your heartstrings, bring tears to your eyes, and showcase a part of history people like to pretend never happened, then pick this up ASAP. I can't wait to get a copy for my shelf. - Richard

  • Sam
    2019-06-15 16:07

    I read Unbound in one night. It's an easy read, thanks to the verse and colloquial writing style that feels natural to southerners. But just because it's simply written, doesn't mean it doesn't have punching power. Unbound is a beautiful, spiritual story of young, light-skinned Grace (a house slave) who digs herself (and her entire family) into a horrible situation when she speaks up for what's right. Grace & her family must escape into the Great Dismal Swamp to avoid the worst kind of retaliation, and along the way, a beautiful story about forgiveness, faith, family, and yes, freedom, is weaved. (The four Fs, perhaps?)I would recommend this novel to any child reluctant to read a work of historical fiction and who also needs insight on the cruelty of slavery. I would also recommend this read to most people, just because it's so quick and soulfully written.

  • David
    2019-05-30 18:49

    I really liked reading Unbound because its one of the best novel in verse I've read. I like how the author put in detail in the little things. I would recommend this book to people who like novel in verse

  • Lily
    2019-05-31 19:55

    I loved, loved, loved Unbound because of the unique choice of writing the novel in verse. While the story was a quick read, it felt unified in a way that made you want to read more. However, the end was a bit of a cliffhanger. I wish the author wrapped up the story more. Overall, the story was one of my favorites I have read so far.

  • Susan
    2019-06-13 12:58

    I want to read this to my fourth-grade class. No, I need to read it to them. They need to hear Grace's story, and - living in Virginia - they need to have a heartfelt connection to the Great Dismal Swamp. Ann Burg has accomplished a great work in capturing words to describe hope in the face of the horror of slavery, all in a manner appropriate for middle-grade readers. Hope embodied by the courage and sacrifice of others. Stunning.

  • Tara Warmerdam
    2019-06-16 15:48

    A beautiful, important story. I will write a full review in a few days. For now, I want to dwell in the lovely language and the powerful ending to this story while I think about my review. I am already returning to reread my favorite passages....

  • Nancy Kotkin
    2019-06-09 15:14

    Novel-in-verse about slavery. At nine years old, Grace is no longer a child. As the story opens, Grace is just about to become a house slave for the Master who owns her mother and stepfather. She is rightly terrified and, as it turns out, not very good at practicing submissiveness or blindly following directions. As a result, the tobacco plantation owners decide to sell off Grace's mother and both the stepbrothers Grace has been helping to raise. But Grace and her family would rather live in the Great Dismal Swamp than face the auction block. In order to stay together, they flee into the wilderness, where they will at least be free. If they survive.This is historical fiction. There really is (or was?) a Great Dismal Swamp spread across parts of Virginia and North Carolina, and it was used as a refuge for runaway slaves. There is another slave in the story who runs away "up North" and that option is also discussed among Grace's family. Slave catchers, called Paddyrollers, are much feared by runaways, and with good reason. This novel looks at slavery from a variety of angles: life as a field slave, life as a house slave, life as a runaway slave in hiding, and life as a runaway slave who migrates. For this reason, this book makes an excellent educational resource.The element of the novel that I find most brilliant is the lightness of Grace's skin color. It is never mentioned, but Grace is most likely the child of her mother and the slave "Master." When Grace was five years old, Mama "jumped the broom" with Jim, another slave who is Grace's stepfather. ("Jumping the broom" was the marriage custom practiced by slaves because slaves could not marry by law.) The author makes excellent use of Grace's skin color. In the beginning, Grace rubs mud all over herself to look more like her family members. Later, there is a discussion among Grace's mother and stepfather over whether or not to send her "up North" because she is so light-skinned that she could "pass" as Caucasian. It is her light skin that makes her desirable as a house slave, because she looks more like the white plantation owners. It is probably also her light skin that makes the "Missus" despise her so, though this is an inference never explicitly stated in the book.A bit didactic in places, and often shies away from any deep conflict or tragedy. For example, Grace is once slapped in the face by the Missus, but she is never whipped, which is unrealistic, especially given her tendency to show her feelings openly and to speak her mind. But I think these were conscious choices made in order to slot this book into lower middle grade. And it does make a wonderful, if cleansed, introduction to slavery that can be read and digested by children as young as fourth graders. Despite the length (about 350 pgs), it's a very quick read, since it is written in free verse. Would also be good for reluctant readers, if they don't mind the fact that the protagonist is only nine years old. Not sure why this book didn't get any Newbery attention.

  • April
    2019-05-24 15:56

    Grace is pulled from the slave cabins to work in the Big House. Despite warnings from her mother and Uncle Jim and others to just "keep her eyes down and her mouth shut" Grace can't tamp down on her "rightiness voice". Grace and her family flee slavery into the deep swamps in search of Freedom. This verse-style story is meant for middle-grade readers but could be enjoyed by adults as well. The plot of Grace and her family as slaves and then working to escape to the Great Dismal Swamp is a nice departure from the usual historical slave narratives which tend to focus on paths leading to freedom in the North. It's compelling and thought-provoking; would be good for a book club read.Anything you didn’t like about it? The voice of Grace is at times overly "young" which contrasts with other points where she is wise beyond her years (especially in vocabulary) but it doesn't detract from the story. To whom would you recommend this book? Would be a really compelling read for mother/daughter book groups. Similar to Brown Girl Dreaming in style/content but meant for a younger audience. A good one for reluctant readers or kids wondering about slavery in America.Who should buy this book? Middle schools, public librariesWhere would you shelve it ? Middle grade (Historical) FictionShould we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not necessary though it reads quickly due to the format.FTC Disclosure: The Publisher provided me with a copy of this book to provide an honest review. No goody bags, sponsorship, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

  • Yapha
    2019-06-05 13:03

    This free verse novel follows the story of Grace as she is torn from her mother and brothers and sent to work in the Big House, due to her light skin. Grace and her family are slaves on a plantation near the Great Dismal Swamp. Only nine years old, Grace promises her mother that she will keep her eyes down and her thoughts to herself, but she sees new things every day that cause her to question why things are the way they are. The injustice of it all becomes too much for her, threatening her entire family. A powerful look at the horrors of slavery and the bravery and resilience of those who lived through it. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

  • Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
    2019-06-06 17:50

    Outstanding novel in verse about Grace, a slave girl who, with her family, escape to the interior of the Great Dismal Swamp rather than be sent to the auction block. Characters who speak in the language and accents of the times, combined with details of period life, lend authenticity to the tale. Not long ago I saw on a segment of "Mysteries at the Museum" that an anthropologist looking for traces of the escaped slave and Native American settlements in the swamp finally found the outlines of cabins and dug up small artifacts. Burg actually met this anthropologist in the course of her research for this book, and I'll bet that the broken China button that Aunt Sara gave to Grace as a remembrance was one of those artifacts. The idea of living in the midst of that swamp must have been so appealing for its sense of freedom, worth risking its natural dangers. Young readers will learn through Grace's eyes about the evils and injustices of slavery, and will be questioning with her why these things had to be. They will certainly be rooting for Grace and her family as they flee. I highly recommend this suspenseful and thoughtful story to adults as well as children. Outstanding!

  • Andrew Blok
    2019-06-01 19:18

    This book is great. You should read it. It won't take long. Do it!A novel in verse from the perspective of Grace, a young, slave in antebellum North Carolina (most likely), Unbound tells a story of oppression with a newer focus. Instead of focusing solely on the physical horrors of slavery, Grace's story, which certainly deals with the physical, focuses on Grace's conception of her personhood. Grace is told, when she goes to work in the Big House, that she must "learn her place" as one without agency. She wonders how her master and mistress can hold themselves in such high regard when they don't (or can't) do things for themselves. She wonders how to accept the slave who seems to have learned and accepted her place as less than human. She wonders what place she might fill in the master's house that doesn't further hurt her and her family. She considers this all and risks everything she has — everything her masters are trying to strip from her — to find or create her own place, where the contradictory and inhuman systems she lives with do not apply.

  • Courtnei
    2019-05-30 17:18

    This book was a perfect book to introduce middle school and upper elementary students to slavery from the perspective of someone their own age. It was written in simple, yet expressive language that demonstrated just how hard it was to be a slave, to keep your head down when people were constantly belittling and mistreating you simply because your skin happened to be a different color.

  • Sarah
    2019-06-01 12:51

    E ARC from EdelweissThis story about freedom and family will stay with me for a while. It was particularly meaningful because the Great Dismal Swamp is not too far away from me, and I had not previously given any thought about its importance in the past.

  • Jiun
    2019-06-08 15:14

    This book was one of the best books that I have every read. I first read it because my friend recommended it to me. I didn't think much of it and gave it a try. I read the first few pages and immediately fell in love. This book had emotion and adventure tied together to make one AWESOME book. I would recommend this book to anyone.

  • Rubaina
    2019-06-04 12:16

    I really liked this book. I don't usually like novels in verse but this one was really good. I would recommend this book to people who like historical fiction.

  • Angela Kidd Shinozaki
    2019-06-06 20:15

    I feel fortunate that I discovered and was able to read two novels in verse in a row. This one had quite a unique story to tell. It's not just about slavery or escaping or freedom. These slaves escape to the swamps where they make a new life. It's based on true accounts. The author employs dialect to tell this story, which can slow the reading down a tad, but makes the story feel more authentic. And truly, this is a fast-paced, read-it-to-the-end kind of story anyway. It never slows down. You care about the characters immediately and worry about them until the final page. The reason the main character, Grace, is so relatable is because of her fatal flaw, speaking her mind, which gets her into trouble and causes a great amount of shame. That is a universal feeling. But the beauty of the story is in her realizing that often times shame is unfounded and speaking up for yourself and others is never wrong when the intentions are true. And sometimes making a mistake can be a blessing for an entire family. This is another story about using your voice, which I think is fantastic. It also teaches the importance of keeping moving when enduring any difficult situation in order to move through it. Only the strongest of will and heart survive. I found it especially profound that the book went beyond discussions of racial bias to explore the concept of judging in general and how we should seek not to judge anyone when we don't know the whole story. Here are a few of my favorite quotes."Age don't make you old. Worries do.""Sometimes bein' brave is just knowin' when to step back n wait.""Freedom's not jus a place you find on a map. Freedom's livin' with folks who love you n havin' the space to love yourself. Freedom's not bein' afraid to say your own thoughts n follow your own heart, jus like the good Lord intended."

  • Destinee Sutton
    2019-06-16 19:52

    I remember being a young kid learning about slavery and thinking something along the lines of, "Why would anyone accept being a slave?" At the time I didn't understand a lot of things. I didn't understand the drive to stay alive, even if it means living under unbearable conditions. I didn't understand what it means to be born into a culture that denies your humanity. If I had had the opportunity to read this book back then, I think it would've helped me understand the psychological shackles of slavery, not just the literal ones. Grace is nine years old and has always lived with her mother in slave quarters on a tobacco plantation. But now Grace is being forced to live and work in the Big House serving the white Master and Missus. It's just on the other side of the hill from her family, but it means Grace won't see her mother. And it means Grace will be scrutinized by the hateful Missus. Through poetry, the reader feels Grace's fear, her intense love for her mother, and also her desire to speak her mind even though it's forbidden. When Grace discovers the Master and Missus intend to sell her mother and brothers at a slave auction, she finds the courage to try to save her family. This story is based on new research about the Great Dismal Swamp, a seemingly uninhabitable area in Virginia and North Carolina that was a refuge for people escaping slavery. You can read more about it here:

  • Angie
    2019-06-12 18:05

    This is the story of Grace and her family who are all slaves to a tobacco farmer in the south. It's a fictional story about a real time in our history just before the Civil War, when African Americans were considered to be the property of white people. This book made me uncomfortable. I felt antsy reading it. At one point I put it down and felt like I needed to do something RIGHT NOW from my couch in my home to make up for the injustice against these humans. Reading this book at a time when our nation is feeling so much racial tension seemed like both a blessing and a curse. I feel so much and yet so empty...emotionally drained. Burg's book is a window into the past and a mirror in which to look at your own prejudices and/or convictions. A quote from Burg's author note at the end really drives the feeling and tone of the whole book home: "the choice to brave the wilderness rather than suffer the brutality and humiliation of bondage is a towering testimony to the spirit and conviction of an oppressed people who risked everything for the chance to be free." The world needs this book right now.

  • Janet
    2019-06-14 15:55

    An incredible and wonderful, thought provocing story in verse about an enslaved child who bravely runs away with her family to live in freedom. The author tells the harrowing story in the first person thus allowing the reader to see the world from this little girl's perspective. She is light-skinned and blue-eyed and therefore is plucked from her family to work as a house servant. There she learns the cruelty of her owners first-hand.This is a marvelous story for middle schoolers to imagine themselves as Grace and to really put themselves in her shoes (or rags as the case may be). Given how the evil of slavery still touches our country, I hope every child in grade 4 through 6 reads it and remembers Grace's realization that freedom is everything and all God's people are worth remembering.

  • Deena Lipomi
    2019-05-28 19:55

    Nine-year-old Grace is being sent to the big house from her cabin where she picks tobacco with her family, but she has a hard time following Mama's orders to keep her eyes down and mouth shut so her family must flee Master's house and find Freedom in the swamp. Written in verse, this middle grade novel has a dialect that takes a few pages to get into, but then flows with a poetic cadence. Grace is spunky and lovable and brave, as is her family. A lovely MG novel about escaping slaves through a lesser known means.

  • Kristi Bell
    2019-05-28 16:55

    A novel in verse about a child, Grace, born into slavery. She is old enough to move to the Big House to assist the others in the kitchen. She worries about her mama and brothers she has left behind in the slave quarters. Beautifully written book that is suspenseful and educates the middle school reader about slavery. Language: NoneSex: NoneViolence: Talks about beatings but never describes them in detail.

  • Kristin
    2019-06-13 16:57

    I absolutely loved this book and had a hard time putting it down. Although it is written in verse, it was as compelling, detailed, and emotional as a novel written in complete, descriptive sentences. It is told from the point of view of a young slave girl. The author's craft allows the reader to see both what she thinks and what she says in authentic language as she goes through her daily experiences of a young slave realizing how brutal and unfair her life is.

  • Morgan
    2019-06-07 12:07

    A novel in verse about slaves in the early 1860s? DUH. Already knew I was gonna love this one as much as I did, but was pleasantly surprised to learn about the Maroons and their bravery and resilience as they fled slavery and oppression by journeying into the deep and dangerous swamps of Virginia and North Carolina. Two thumbs up.

  • The Bookloft
    2019-06-01 14:01

    Bookseller: LaurenNot only is this an amazing personal story about a young girl born into slavery in the Great Dismal Swamp area of VA/NC in the early 1860's, but it truly is a work of art. The poetry flows so sensitively you suspect you are Grace.

  • Cecelia
    2019-05-21 19:07

    I finished Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg. And, I really enjoyed it! It's a great, quick read. I also learned a thing or two about maroons and the Great Dismal Swamp. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good historical fiction book about slavery.

  • Lorie Barber
    2019-06-03 17:48

    Couldn't put this stunningly beautiful novel-in-verse down. It also taught me a great deal about an aspect of slavery I hadn't previously known about.

  • Beth
    2019-06-14 17:13

    Appreciated the perspective and also the little-known historical background!

  • Richelle
    2019-06-05 12:09

    Really interesting look at slavery.