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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The day Grace is called from the slave cabins to work in the Big House, Mama makes her promise to keep her eyes down. Uncle Jim warns her to keep her thoughts tucked private in her mind or they could bring a whole lot of trouble and pain.

But the more Grace sees of the heartless Master and hateful Missus, the more a rightiness voice clamors in her head-asking how come white folks can own other people, sell them on the auction block, and separate families forever. When that voice escapes without warning, it sets off a terrible chain of events that prove Uncle Jim's words true. Suddenly, Grace and her family must flee deep into the woods, where they brave deadly animals, slave patrollers, and the uncertainty of ever finding freedom.

With candor and compassion, Ann E. Burg sheds light on a startling chapter of American history--the remarkable story of runaways who sought sanctuary in the Great Dismal Swamp--and creates a powerful testament to the right of every human 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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