About the Book
Book: Arms of Freedom
Author: Kathleen Neely
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release date: October 6, 2021
With each page of the age-old journals, Annie discovers all that unites her with a woman who once lived in her farmhouse. One lived with wealth and one with poverty, but both knew captivity. Both longed to be free.
Miriam yearns to escape her life as a super model. She drops the pseudonym and uses the name she gave up years ago—Annie Gentry. Then she alters her appearance and moves to rural South Carolina to care for her grandmother. Can she live a simple life without recognition? Can she hide a net worth valued in the millions? Love is nowhere in her plans until she meets a man who wants nothing more than Annie Gentry and the simple life he lives.
Charlotte lived in the same farmhouse in the tumultuous 1860’s. The Civil War was over, but for a bi-racial girl, freedom remained elusive. She coveted a life where she wouldn’t bring shame to her family. A life where she could make a difference. As she experiences hope, will it be wrested from her?
The journals stop abruptly with a climactic event, leaving Annie to search for information. What happened to Charlotte? Did her life make a difference? Did she ever find freedom?
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About the Author
Kathleen Neely is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
She is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, The Least of These, Arms of Freedom, and In Search of True North. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.
Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
More from Kathleen
I’d like to introduce myself and then share a little bit about my book, Arms of Freedom. I am a retired educator having taught preschool, fourth grade, and then moving into administration as an elementary principal. When I retired, I pursued my desire to write. My first novel, The Least of These, won first place in a contest titled Fresh Voices. That honor renewed my confidence, and since then, I’ve written five novels. Arms of Freedom is my first timeslip (dual timeline) novel.
Arms of Freedom was birthed during a time of racial tension in our nation; a time when social injustice and protests were forefront in the news. Many publishers safely avoided manuscripts with any mention of racial issues—perhaps a wise decision from a business perspective.
However, failure to look at our past denies us the opportunity to learn from history. Our fear of offending can push major historical offenses into a dark closet. I chose to illuminate those offenses by launching this book. Following the Civil War, the period of twelve years known as Reconstruction was perhaps the most brutal period of racial terrorism. The contents may be hard to read. I confess that I often wrote through tears.
In the end, I hope your takeaway is this: Regardless of race and ethnicity, all people are created in the image of God, a one-of-a-kind miracle, loved by Him, and created for a purpose. We are called to unity, to be perfectly one (John 17:23). May we join together in raising our arms of freedom to the Savior who released us from the captivity of sin.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. — John 8:36 NIV
I hope you enjoy Annie’s story as the life of this contemporary character intersects with Charlotte’s story from 150 years earlier. Both experience a coming-of-age change as they seek to escape from what holds them captive.
This has been one of the hardest books I have read. In fact I didn’t want to finish it but I did. It’s not a bad book but one that hit me with truth that I needed to be reminded of. Written in a fiction genre this story has truth running throughout the saga. I will admit that I was angry while reading it because the author delivers a character that illustrates what people endured during a period in history where racial prejudice ran rampant. . A young child hidden because of the color of her skin makes me feel shameful. The author accomplished something that few do. She wrote a story that captures the emotional and physical abuse of people who were deemed “different.”
I did like that the story went from present to the 1860s. Annie had this glamorous life as a top model but seemed restless. She did go back to a small town and live in the house that her grandmother gave her. Bringing her grandmother back home was nice and I liked how the people in the town helped each other out. I knew there was more to Annie than just being a model and the author unwraps her story slowly. Her relationship with her mother is not good but it was her relationship with her father I was most curious about. The author delivers a shocking secret about Annie’s father that made me cry. The emotional journey of Annie’s life is one that left me numb. When Annie finds an old journal I was curious how the author would connect the past to the present.
Finding Charlotte’s journal takes us back to where a young girl named was hidden in an attic most of her life. During this time period if your skin was dark, you were treated like a slave. Charlotte is bi-racial and in order for her mother to keep her child, she had to hide her so no one would know about her. It made me sad that Charlotte’s mother would allow the treatment she endured from a man who disgusted me.
If there ever was an evil character Mr Janes Pearson is it. His hatred was felt by his wife and Charlotte. The beatings he gave Charlotte sickened me and I so wanted to help Charlotte get away from him. The author talks about the Klan and how they are determined to rid the town of black people. It made my skin crawl as Mr. Pearson had so much control over his wife and other people in the town. Following Charlotte on her journey to freedom is bittersweet. She longs to be make a difference in the world but doesn’t know if she will fulfill her dream. In a way Annie was on the same journey. They both endured a horrible childhood where no one kept then safe.
The faith element in the story is rich and brings a softness to the trials these two women lived through. Learning to give themselves to God allowed them to find unconditional love and a chance to be set free from their past. I admire the author for writing a story that gives us a reminder that hate has no place in this world.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.