Hansen, J. (1997). I thought my soul would rise and fly: The diary of Patsy, a freed girl. New York, NY: Scholastic.
This book is from the Dear America series which is a popular series of historical fiction for tweens. The books are written by multiple authors and take place during different historical periods. This book takes place during Reconstruction after the Civil War and is told through the journal entries of a former slave named Patsy. The main part of the book is composed of Patsy’s entries but it also contains an epilogue about what happened to Patsy after the last journal entry along with a short chapter about the time period and a section of photographs and other documents from the time period. This set up is standard across the Dear America series as well as the Royal Dairies series which focuses on the lives of young royals and the My America series which is geared towards boys and presented as the journals of boys living in historical times. All three of these series are designed for and popular with tweens.
I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly is a particularly great book from the series as in the beginning of the book Patsy is still a slave. She was taught to read and write by the children of her master who used to play school with her. She later receives her own journal and records what is happening in her life, which illustrates how slow the process of gaining freedom actually was for many former slaves. Patsy does not immediately leave the plantation once she is freed she and many of the other former slaves stay and begin working for a wage, only leaving when it is clear that they will not receive all that they were promised. Patsy’s entries end when she decides to leave the plantation. This is a great book for any fan of historical fiction though the diary style will make it more appealing for girls. It is also a good book for fans of the American Girls series particularly for fans of Addy. It is also a great book for displays or events during Black History Month.