Cover image for Unbound : a novel in verse / by Ann E. Burg.
Unbound : a novel in verse / by Ann E. Burg.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2016.

Physical Description:
345 pages ; 22 cm
The day nine-year-old Grace is called to work in the kitchen in the Big House, everyone warns her to keep her head down and her thoughts to herself, but the more she sees of the oppressive Master and his hateful wife, the more she questions things until one day her thoughts her thoughts turn to escape -and to avoid being separated she and her family flee into the Dismal Swamp, to join the other escaped slaves who live there.


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1 Bob Harkins Branch BUR Book Teen Collection

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From the award-winning author of All the Broken Pieces, comes a new novel-in-verse that is a gripping, transcendent story about a little-known piece of slave history.

Grace has grown up in slavery. As difficult as life on the Virginia plantation is, at least she has her family: Momma, her younger brothers, Thomas and Willy, Aunt Sara, and Uncle Jim. When she overhears Master and Mistress plotting to sell her brothers, she and her family decide to run away that same night. But without time to plan their escape and go north along the Underground Railroad, their only choice is to head deep into the woods of the Dismal Swamp -a remote wilderness, filled with wild animals; daily searches for food, water, and shelter; and the ever present anxiety of being caught.

Historians have recently discovered evidence of the Dismal Swamp, and a community of slaves who sought refuge there. Ann Burg's unflinching story, written in her signature luminous verse, sheds light on this little-known story and the courage of a people who risked everything for the chance to be free.

Author Notes

Ann Burg's debut novel, All the Broken Pieces (2009), was named a Jefferson Cup award winner and an IRA Notable Book for a Global Society, among its many honors. Her follow-up, Serafina's Promise (2013), was named an ALA Notable, Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner, and an NAACP Image Award finalist. Burg worked as an English teacher for ten years before becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with her family. You can visit her online at

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Written in clipped verse, Burg's third novel, after All the Broken Pieces and Serafina's Promise, follows nine-year-old Grace, who is called up from the slave cabins to work in the Big House. Grace's mother warns her to keep her eyes down and her mouth shut, but her youth and strong sense of morality and fairness make it difficult to bite her tongue: "I wonder why/ Master n the Missus/ get to eat right early/ in the morning/ n them what's been workin/ got to wait till/ the midday bell." When Grace talks back to the Missus, causing her mother and younger brothers to be sent to the auction block, Grace and her family flee the plantation and go deep, seeking refuge in the Great Dismal Swamp. Based on historical events and an actual refuge for escaped slaves, the family's journey through the swamp is harrowing, yet Burg's colloquial verse gives Grace a strong, distinct voice, allowing her emotion and determination to shine. Grace's story of familial love, community, and hope is a moving, sensitive read. Ages 9-12. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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