The Freedom Race by Lucinda Roy shows a future following a second American civil war. Slavery is reinstated, and a young woman participates in a race where, if she wins, she will win freedom. The novel, the first book in The Dreambird Chronicles, is available from Macmillan and Tor.
I’ve received a free ARC of The Freedom Race from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Jellybean (Ji-Ji) Lottermule lives in Planting 437, one of the plantations in the Homestead (American South). After the second civil war, known as the Sequel, Black people were imported, bred, and enslaved in the Homestead Territories. Ji-Ji doesn’t want to accept her fate, but if she runs away, a bounty hunter might find her or worse. So she decides to join the freedom race as a runner. Winning won’t just grant her freedom, but also the ability to advocate for the freedom of the other enslaved.
The Freedom Race starts with Ji-Ji’s uncle telling her and her brother Tiro the story about their people’s (the Toteppi, from this world’s Africa) origins. Tribes of the sea, earth, and sky populated the world. But the sea and earth tribes resent the bird tribe because of how their creator (the One who became Two) has treated the latter better. The conflict eventually leads to a war that slaughtered and imprisoned the folk of the bird tribe. The survivors retreat into the mountains, their past days of flight and freedom dwindling down into myths about rebellious angels and flying too close to the sun. The Toteppi’s history seamlessly braids Ji-Ji’s story into the novel’s structure. Lucinda Roy effortlessly interweaves magical realism into Ji-Ji’s narrative and world.
This novel isn’t a “feel good” or an inspirational read. Roy doesn’t hold back on the reality of slavery, eugenics, genocide, and the intentions behind the freedom race. As with works like Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler and Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon, The Freedom Race is a familiar vision of a plausible future.
You can read an excerpt here.
You can visit Roy’s author website here.
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.
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