Freedom by Catherine Johnson
Nathaniel Barrett knows no other life than that of a boy born into slavery in Jamaica. When he is taken to England as part of the white owner’s household he has high hopes of freedom, for England he is told is a place where everyone is free. He has much to learn. He is still an enslaved boy at the mercy of his cruel mistress and it is only the friendliness of some people he meets in his new adventure that keeps him hopeful. This compelling read manages to take us to the worst and the best places.
The writer cleverly mixes horrifying descriptions of events on a slave trader ship with the outrage shown by witnesses. Real life characters in the abolition movement such as Olaudah Equiano and Frances Joanna Sancho are skilfully blended into the narrative which flows along at a good pace. It’s a slice of London life, full of colourful characters with snippets of real local history thrown into the mix. Nat experiences some misfortunes, but ultimately the book has an upbeat ending.
What do you think? How do you bring historical fiction into your history teaching?