Freedom for Me

A Chinese Yankee

Young Adult - Coming of Age
264 Pages
Reviewed on 03/14/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Stacie Haas is an award-winning professional and creative writer with a background in business communications and public relations. She has degrees in American History and English and is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature.

Stacie's writing has been published in Skipping Stones and St. Anthony Messenger magazines and online as she competes in many a flash fiction contest.

Writing Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee for young people fulfilled one of Stacie's lifelong dreams, one that satisfyingly combined her love of writing and American Civil War history.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee is an historical fiction novel written by Stacie Haas. The character of Thomas Beck, the young Chinese American who joins the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry with his brother, Robert, is based on the true-life story of Joseph Pierce. Like Pierce, Beck is rescued from a life of involuntary servitude by his uncle, who secretes his young nephew in a crate placed on board a ship. The ship’s captain, Amos Beck, adopts the child as his own, and brings him home to Connecticut where the Becks have a farm. Haas details the struggles a Chinese American would have being accepted by his peers in the Infantry, starting with the difficulties his own adopted brother has in acknowledging their family relationship. In her author’s note, Haas indicates those aspects of Thomas Beck’s story which differ from the real life history of Joseph Pierce. She also shares details of Pierce’s life after his Civil War service.

Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee is a meticulously researched and beautifully presented military fiction novel which recreates the life and experiences of a Chinese Yankee volunteer during the Civil War. Her battle scenes are stark and moving, and the prejudicial attitudes Beck is subjected to ring true, sadly enough, even in today’s world. Reading Freedom for Me was a fascinating and illuminating experience for me as each skirmish became real and the bravery of those who endured is revealed. I was especially interested in seeing how Thomas interacted with the soldiers he was attached to, particularly Henry, whose initial viciousness and physical attacks were alarming. The young men, all from very different walks of life, formed a team that was memorable. What was perhaps most moving of all was Beck’s conviction that freeing the slaves was worth sacrificing his own life for; that his own freedom was intricately tied up in the civil rights of others. Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee is beautifully written and it’s most highly recommended.

Paul F. Johnson

Freedom For Me by Stacie Haas is set during the Civil War which has been going on for over a year. Like so many other young men, Thomas wants to fight for his country. He has two problems; one is that he’s not old enough to join and the other is, as his brother would say, there are no Chinese Yankees. When Robert joins to fight, Thomas follows. However, before he can face the enemy he has to face his own fellow soldiers. Thomas finds that wearing the same uniform isn't enough to shed the Chinese label and he must face hardship, bigotry and hateful taunts, mainly because of his size but also because of the traditional Chinese queue ( long braid) he wears. Even after being severely beaten, his spirit isn't broken. Along the way, Thomas befriends a runaway slave where he begins to understand the true meaning of freedom and that the Union has to win the war so that slavery can end. But, if he is to survive to see the end, he must somehow gain the respect and trust of his comrades.

I liked this book very much. Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee is insightful in many ways. Based on a true story, the characterization was superbly portrayed. It vividly points out that hate and bigotry wasn't limited to one side. The dialogue was appropriate for the time period. Without the use of gory detail, the plot brought the reader right into the middle of the fight, some of the most dangerous and bloody battles of all the Civil War. The author has a talent for putting the reader there, next to Thomas with his determination to save the Union. I think the target audience will find it is a perfect fit. Very nicely done. I enjoyed it very much. Good job by this author.

Deborah Lloyd

Thomas Beck was not your typical adolescent male living in Connecticut in the 1860s. He lived with his father Joseph, mother Madeline and his eighteen-year-old brother Robert. Joseph was a seafaring captain and brought Thomas home after a trip to China, and they raised him as their own son. Madeline shielded Thomas from the local townspeople who would not accept his differences. Robert could not wait to join the Union Army, and Thomas joined with him, without the knowledge of any family member. The travails of his military experiences are described in Freedom For Me: A Chinese Yankee, written by Stacie Haas. Although fighting alongside other soldiers, Thomas experienced much prejudice and bullying. However, he was committed to ending slavery; he understood what it meant to be viewed as unworthy and less valuable than other people. Based on a true story, another face of racism is revealed.

The fictional account itself is very interesting, as it follows the Fourteenth Connecticut Infantry from the initial excitement of fighting the Rebels throughout some famous Civil War battles. These battles were grueling and difficult. The high numbers of injuries and deaths are hard to imagine. Author Stacie Haas has written a fascinating account of the Civil War, from the viewpoint of an “outsider” soldier, in Freedom For Me: A Chinese Yankee. She writes with a smooth flow, moving from the personal experiences of Thomas and his brother to historically accurate battle scenes. The reader is engaged from the first page to the last. This novel is certainly a poignant depiction of a difficult era in this country’s history.