Advance Praise for Freedom Lessons
"Inspired by the author’s real-life experiences, Freedom Lessons is a candid and nuanced novel about a young Northern woman who spends a year teaching in the 1960s Jim Crow South. In the process, she learns more about herself and her country than she ever expected. Freedom Lessons is illuminating and gripping, and a worthy addition to the literature of the civil rights era."
~Amy Hill Hearth, New York Times and Washington Post best-selling author and recipient of two American Library Association Notable Book citations
“This powerful story of lives shaped by school integration in the deep south shows us the fear and deeply-held prejudices that marked the time, the place, and the people. But we also see the kindness, courage, and risks that offered hope and ignited change. Sanchez is a masterful storyteller. Her characters leaped off the page into my heart—where they’ve stayed. Freedom Lessons is a novel that illustrates how far we’ve come, while at the same time reminding us how much more we have to do.”
~Donna Cameron, award-winning author of A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You
"A poignant snapshot of the real-life impact of integration in the American south during a single school year in 1969, when one step forward was usually accompanied by another, often worse, step back. A reminder that genuine cultural change requires so much more than the right intentions and a good heart. "
~Rita Dragonette, award winning author of The Fourteenth of September
"In her riveting novel, Eileen Sanchez makes us feel the pain of a Louisiana community as deeply rooted prejudice undercuts school integration. Through her three characters―a white teacher from out of state, a hometown teacher scarred by personal slights, and a high school senior denied a football career when his team is relegated to second string―we experience their heartfelt frustrations while wishing history had treated them more kindly. Sanchez’s fiction gives us a glimpse into the truth of a highly flawed time and place, and the corrosive nature of prejudice that unfortunately persists today."
~Michelle Cameron, author of The Fruit of Her Hands and Beyond the Ghetto Gates
Eileen Sanchez offers a rare look at a tumultuous period in our nation’s history—the desegregation of the schools. Freedom Lessonsbeautifully portrays the angst felt by a young, white woman when she is transferred to teach at a newly integrated school, a young black football player betrayed by the system, and a young black teacher who is fighting her own set of challenges. Sanchez is able to deftly jump between perspectives, fully immersing the reader in a different time and place. Heart-wrenching at times, Freedom Lessons will leave you inspired and wanting more. Sanchez gives us much to think about that is relevant even today. A captivating new voice!
~ Michelle Cox, author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series.
“Sanchez masterfully tells the historically fictive story of a young white teacher caught up in the turbulent struggles of desegregation in the Deep South in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Freedom Lessons reminds us of a dark period in our history, and of the importance of an equal opportunity education for all. A must read for our generation and generations to come.”
~ Kari Bovee, Author of the Annie Oakley Mystery Series
“First and foremost, Freedom Lessonsis a captivating and well-written story. Reading this book has changed me personally and professionally. It has made me expand my appreciation of the many experiences of those involved in the crossover. I believe that the book can be an excellent source to teach current and future generations about The Crossover. The Deep South no doubt plays its role - the further you read in the story, the more hot and humid it starts to feel around you. Eileen succeeds where historians and academics like myself fail – recounting major societal events through the inescapable and complex humanity of her characters. A distinguished educator herself, Eileen fully delivers on the challenge of framing what teaching and learning was during this era, and Freedom Lessons forces us to ask the question of what it should be now.
Michael R. Hicks, Ed.D. Assistant Professor of Education, Centenary College of Louisiana