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Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
In Freedom's Light by Sharon Gloger Friedman is the story of Anica Amselem and her struggles because she followed a certain religion. Set in the late 1700s, our protagonist Anica struggled to hide her religion amid the consistent pressure on conversos Christians. She secretly practiced Judaism along with her husband Efren, but things became difficult when they got caught most suspiciously. So, Anica and Efren packed their bags and ran away with their daughter Isabel to Charleston, South Carolina. They took refuge with Efren’s uncle Philip at his rice plantation, and for some time things were good. Even as Efren decided to start a shipping business and tried to keep it going, Anica was left wondering what they had gotten themselves into. While they could practice their religion more freely, witnessing the horrors of enslavement might break Anica’s resolve. Would Anica and Efren remain silent, or would they question Philip and endanger their refuge?
Author Sharon Gloger Friedman did her due diligence, researched, and then used that knowledge to write a compelling story that I connected with immediately. Anica was a reliable protagonist, her voice was compelling, enticing, and lured me in from the moment the story began. Efren’s introduction set the tone for how he would appear in the later parts of the story even when he was soft and almost unbearably in love with his young wife. The setting was believable as well as true to the period the author wanted to focus on. On the surface, the themes of In Freedom's Light were simple - hardships, family, religion, race, and traditions - but the story was so much more than that. The author made the story personal for readers. Women had a prominent and strong presence in the story and that made me love it even more. It tested the values of a person as a human being first before anything else. The emotions were high, yet they didn’t drive the story. Anica, Ruth, and even Lindy drove the story forward. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves to read historical fiction.