Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze is much-lauded and award-winning.
It’s a very good book.
(I found myself reading the author’s notes at the end, though, with an absolutely sinking feeling. In them Ms. Sherman states that this book took YEARS of intense historical research and multiple trips to Louisiana.
I love historical fiction. I love it to pieces. I want to write it. I have started many different forays into writing it.
I’m not certain I want to spend eighteen years working on a single book.)
There is a lot to be said about the story in The Freedom Maze, about how the protagonist learns valuable life lessons from suffering in another’s place. More or less. Kind of. In a manner of speaking.
It’s deftly done.
There is an ongoing conversation in science fiction and fantasy writing, about writing the other. About how to write and represent people who are unlike oneself in one’s writing, especially when the people one is writing are members of or stand-ins for an oppressed group. There is a small minority of folks who throw their hands up and don’t bother trying to write as another. Delia Sherman is not one of those who is afraid to try.
I am not a member of the other groups she writes about, here. I can’t speak as to whether she did a good job or not. But I think that the book instills in me, as a reader, empathy with the people she describes. The essential and individual humanity of every character is present. This, this is what I ask for from a writer. I ask that they introduce me to people.
The Freedom Maze does that.