Monday Book Review: The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney

Here’s another book from one of the CatholicTeenBooks.com authors!

Title: The Other Side of Freedom

Author: Cynthia T. Toney

Genre: historical fiction

Age group: middle grade

Summary: (from author’s website)

In a southern farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives?  Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

Those of you who have seen my previous reviews of Cynthia’s Bird Face series might be surprised to hear she’s taken a little break from her usual young adult contemporary genre to write a middle grade historical. The Other Side of Freedom is an engaging and suspenseful tale that will have you hoping poor Sal and his family can find a way out of this mess they’ve gotten into. This book is a quick read with likable characters. Sal’s friendship with his best friend Antonina is the kind of friendship all kids want–a buddy they can be open and honest with, the kind of person with whom they can share all their secrets.

As a work of historical fiction, this story offers some insight into what it was like for Italian immigrants who tried to be law-abiding citizens but were often harassed and coerced by some of their fellow Italian Americans who were mobsters. If you’ve enjoyed Cynthia’s other books, be sure to check out this one.

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