WellRead August Selection: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Are you a mood-reader? Do you find some books more enjoyable because of when you read them? Say, something modern and funny for a holiday. Maybe something unusual or unfamiliar when your brain needs a stretch. These past few weeks, we were in the mood for a book to utterly transport us - and Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge arrived at the perfect moment. It’s a lush historical novel set in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn and is full of the beauty, richness and detail of another time and place.

Libertie is the daughter of one of the first Black female doctors in post-Civil War New York. Her mother is starting a hospital in Brooklyn and intends for Libertie to one day work alongside her. It’s a time of great upheaval for Black and white Americans, and Libertie is confused about her own place in this new world. She studies medicine, however she is drawn more to music than science and must decide between independence and her mother’s disappointment.

Libertie is a sensitive character and the novel follows her into adulthood as she grapples with her identity, searches for love, and craves acceptance. You’ll find some of Libertie’s life choices frustrating, and some entirely understandable. As Natachi Onwuamaegbu said in the Boston Globe, the novel is full of “characters who keep you rooting for them even as they continue to stray and stray and stray.”

The New York Times described Libertie as a book that “both mines history and transcends time”, and with themes of love, family and expectation for the future, we feel that Libertie will be the kind of reading to suit your mood. We hope that when you pick it up, you get your own small moment of freedom.

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