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Dream of Freedom
Author: Michael Phillips
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Pages: 506 pages

With Dream of Freedom Michael Phillips has achieved what most authors never accomplish in their lifetimes—his 100th book published! At this writing, he has already surpassed that mark and shows little sign of slowing down.

This is volume one in the "American Dreams" series, which chronicles events leading up to the Civil War. Lucindy Eaton’s journey from slavery to freedom brings her into contact with Virginia plantation owners, Richmond and Carolyn Davidson, whose faith makes them question the validity of continuing to own slaves. They find themselves immersed in a polarizing regional and national debate over slavery. What they decide is carefully thought through and has far-reaching implications. It leads to a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the Underground Railroad.

Phillips highlights the historical with occasional footnotes of actual events that bear on the narrative. He is an experienced storyteller, but one who requires patience from his readers as he develops characters and provides welcome realism.

He nails the slave dialect and at times provides unconventional thought. Richmond and his wife are not your typical Christians. They don’t go to church or consider themselves religious. In a conversation with an acquaintance, Richmond makes a distinction between "obedience and dogma" without further explanation. Carolyn speaks of Christianity as "a way of life. Jesus taught us how to live, how to treat one another, how to think." It’s something that anyone can practice, she says. Other subtle references to the importance of obedience are scattered throughout.

In another verse, three ladies from a church set out to convert an unchurched young woman. Their religious language and cliches confuse her and cause her to make a swift retreat. She does not see in them what Phillips portrays through the actions of Richmond and Carolyn Davidson—a loving Father who is good.

Good writing, thought-provoking ideas, historical realism, and a careful look at the issues make this especially enjoyable for those who want a little more from their fiction.

Michael Dalton
July 16, 2005



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