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Summary and Reviews of Lorene Cary's The Price of a Child

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

Summary: The Price of a Child is a fictionalized account of a young woman, traveling with her slave owner and two of her three children, who takes the bold step of declaring her freedom and beginning a new life as a free woman. Her only regret is that her youngest child, Bennie, is with her owner's wife in Virginia and may be sold off as a result of her actions. Philadelphia in 1855 is the main setting for this story.

"Cary transfers the clear narrative voice that marked her memoir, Black Ice, to her fiction debut...Helped by a compelling cast of fully drawn characters, Cary has written a first novel of impressive depth and texture in a literate and provocative voice." - Publishers Weekly

"The Price of a Child is a book seared by a sense of mission. It is part of the novel's strength that Ms. Cary presents the Underground Railroad as a patriotic drama of born-and-bred Americans fighting for the right to live free. But there is nothing preachy about her narrative style. She is a powerful storyteller, frankly sensual, mortally funny, gifted with an ear for the pounce and ragged inconsequentiality of real speech and an eye for the shifts and subterfuges by which ordinary people get by. With The Price of a Child, Lorene Cary has produced a generous, sardonic, full-blooded work of fiction." - The New York Times

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