May 11, 2021

Review: Addy: Finding Freedom

Addy: Finding Freedom
American Girl Historical Characters
By Connie Porter
Illustrated by Dahl Taylor
Available now from American Girl
Review copy

Addy: Finding Freedom collects three books in the Addy series, edited to flow as one story. I couldn't tell where the original books began and ended when reading.

Addy was the first Black doll made by the Pleasant Company, before they became American Girl. I appreciate the lengths they went to in order to tell Addy's story with historical accuracy and keep it appropriate for young girls. The novels were written with the help of an advisory board made up of historians and other experts, which I actually think would be useful for all the American Girl historical novels.

The story starts in 1864, when Addy is a slave on a plantation. The story does not gloss over the realities of slavery. One visceral, unforgettable image is when Addy is forced to eat the worm off a crop because the overseer was unsatisfied with her work picking insects. (This is a real thing that was done to children.) Even in escape, Addy's family has to make decisions about who is too young and too old to make the journey. Her father and brother are also sold before their family can make their attempt.

Not all of Addy: Finding Freedom is so gut wrenching. There's quite a bit of detail about the Black community in Pennsylvania. There are concerns about work, school, housing. No one can escape having a mean girl in their class. Addy is also concerned with paying it forward and helping others who are starting with nothing like she and her mother did. Along the way, she even gets a Christmas miracle.

The Addy books have meant a lot to generations of children. I'm glad the books are being republished with fresh, appealing covers. There's also an interesting section in the back with further historical information.

Since 2021 is the 35th anniversary of the Pleasant Company, a reproduction of the original Addy is currently available for sale, in addition to the current version.

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