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The Other Side of Freedom (historical fiction)

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In a southern U.S. farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? Ami In a southern U.S. farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.


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In a southern U.S. farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? Ami In a southern U.S. farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

48 review for The Other Side of Freedom (historical fiction)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peek

    I've been a fan of Cynthia T. Toney for a few years, ever since I discovered her popular“Bird Face” series. So before I even picked up “The Other Side of Freedom,” I already knew I was putting myself in the hands of an exceptionally talented author. I also already knew this new book would be very different from her other stories. While “Bird Face” is a series of contemporary novels for teenage girls, with a female protagonist struggling to live her Catholic faith in a modern high school setting I've been a fan of Cynthia T. Toney for a few years, ever since I discovered her popular“Bird Face” series. So before I even picked up “The Other Side of Freedom,” I already knew I was putting myself in the hands of an exceptionally talented author. I also already knew this new book would be very different from her other stories. While “Bird Face” is a series of contemporary novels for teenage girls, with a female protagonist struggling to live her Catholic faith in a modern high school setting with problems that typical teens today face (high school cliques, bullying, insecurities, that incredible first crush, worry about physical appearance, broken families and remarriage, and a hundred other issues that today's teens can definitely relate to), “The Other Side of Freedom” is radically different in setting, characters and plot. This time Toney's protagonist is a young teenage boy from a poverty-stricken immigrant family who farms strawberries in Louisiana in the early 1900's. You have to admit, you can't get much different than that! Yet the one thing that ISN'T different is the way Toney grabs you by the throat from the first chapter and keeps you flipping the pages, sometimes giggling at her humor and other times reaching for the Kleenex box, but always enthralled by her masterful storytelling. Toney doesn't waste time warming her engines before plunging straight in with her heart-pounding plot. Page one kicks off with a bang (almost literally) as our young hero Sal is finishing up his farm chores and getting ready to go inside for supper. As he turns a corner in the barn, he stops dead in his tracks by what he sees. In the distance, his father and uncle are being confronted by a group of intimidating men . . . with guns. By page five or six, the reader is biting their nails, believe me. Who are these evil guys? Why are they on Sal's family farm? What do they want? It soon becomes clear that our hero and his family are in deep, deep trouble. With every frantically-turned page the plot escalates and never lets up. But I don't want to spoil anything, so you'll just have to read it yourself! This is a riveting tale of evil versus good, truth versus lies, and one boy's moral agony of doing the right thing even when the stakes are incredibly high. While written for pre-teens and young adults, this is certainly a book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. It has become my favorite of Cynthia Toney's books, and that's saying a lot. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Lauer

    Very well-written story set during Prohibition in the U.S. (1925) and how the mob and the mafia changed a 13-year-old boy's life forever. Things go from bad to worse for Sal and his Italian immigrant parents living in Louisiana when the mob comes to town and goes after them because of Sal's uncle's connection to the mob in Italy. You'll want to set aside a couple of hours to read this, once you start, it's hard to put down. Very well-written story set during Prohibition in the U.S. (1925) and how the mob and the mafia changed a 13-year-old boy's life forever. Things go from bad to worse for Sal and his Italian immigrant parents living in Louisiana when the mob comes to town and goes after them because of Sal's uncle's connection to the mob in Italy. You'll want to set aside a couple of hours to read this, once you start, it's hard to put down.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steven R. McEvoy

    This was the fourth book by Cynthia T. Toney that I have read in the last year. The other three are from the Bird Face series about life in modern high school. And as much as I liked those books, I really loved this one. This book is completely different. It is historical fiction and set in the southern United States, in the 1920's. This middle grade novel is an amazing read for young readers, teens and even adults willing to give it a short. This is a very moving book. It draws upon emptions, p This was the fourth book by Cynthia T. Toney that I have read in the last year. The other three are from the Bird Face series about life in modern high school. And as much as I liked those books, I really loved this one. This book is completely different. It is historical fiction and set in the southern United States, in the 1920's. This middle grade novel is an amazing read for young readers, teens and even adults willing to give it a short. This is a very moving book. It draws upon emptions, prejudices, and the political climate of a very different time. As a Canadian reading about the deep south is as foreign as reading about continental Europe. But that does not mean that I cannot read and learn from that reading. This is the primarily a story about Sal Scavianos, a young man, coming of age, in a close-knit Italian immigrant family. Sal is just 13 but he does well in school and works hard on the family farm. The family has worked hard to build their farm, and the family business selling their produce ad products. In Freedom Louisiana it took time and challenging work for them to succeed. But thing start to go off track when Sal notices some strangers in fancy suits talking to his father. Sal faces some very tough decisions, decisions that could have life and death consequences. Consequences for himself, his family, and the young woman he is interested in. In this story family history and expectations from the family's ethnic group play a major role in the story line. Sal is put in a very difficult place. And things look bleak for his family. And yet he needs to make a decision that will have lasting consequences because it is what he believes is the best path forward. This book really made me think. It made me think about the immigrants in my own family tree, coming from Ireland and Scotland. It also made me think about the prejudices people experience. Both in the past and also today. The story is powerful. It evokes strong emotions in readers. I could hardly put the book down. In many ways this is a classic story of Good vs Evil, but with a young man facing choice that will make him an unknown hero; or bring ruin to all he knows and hold dear. A story tat leaves me thinking about it days weeks after I finish reading it is a story that I believe is masterfully written. This is one such book. I cannot wait until my youngest are a little older to read it with them and am currently reading it a second time with my oldest. As such it has my seal of approval for the whole family! Read the review on my blog Book Reviews and More and reviews of other books by Cynthia T.Toney. Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Corinna Turner

    I’ve heard so much about this book and all the prizes it’s won, and been intending to read it for some time, although the blurb didn’t entirely grab me. I’m glad I finally read it! It took me a few chapters to get fully into it, but then I was hooked. Sal is an engaging hero, and all the characters are fun and well drawn, especially Hiram (I liked the little flashes that highlighted the situation of black people at the time, without letting it take over the story), and Antonina (just moving from I’ve heard so much about this book and all the prizes it’s won, and been intending to read it for some time, although the blurb didn’t entirely grab me. I’m glad I finally read it! It took me a few chapters to get fully into it, but then I was hooked. Sal is an engaging hero, and all the characters are fun and well drawn, especially Hiram (I liked the little flashes that highlighted the situation of black people at the time, without letting it take over the story), and Antonina (just moving from girl to young woman). It’s a dramatic story told in a down-to-earth and non-sensational manner, very realistic and all the more powerful for that. There were a couple of places in the last third when I’d have actually liked a bit more explanation/clarity, but I was reading pretty fast by then, impatient to find out what happened, so the fault may be more with me than the book. I was relieved the law turned out to be on the side of Sal’s father because I really wasn’t convinced it would be, and spent most of the book on tenterhooks as to how that could come out all right. But I’m no lawyer and I’m sure the author researched carefully. The title is a clever play on the town name and some of the events of the book! Overall an excellent story highlighting the troubles (especially for Italians) of the prohibition, through the eyes of a conflicted teen protagonist, and a good study of a crisis of conscience. A great read for teen boys or girls (and the young at heart!). [I am acquainted with the author through an author group but have reviewed this book by my free choice. Opinions are my own.]

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leslea Wahl

    The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney is a middle-grade novel set in Louisiana during the tumultuous Prohibition years. This coming of age story focuses on the difficult choices and decisions one Italian immigrant family must face while desperately trying to keep their family together. I didn’t know much about this interesting time in our history when Italian/Sicilian mobsters terrorized American communities. I was fascinated by this story and how these crime sprees affected law-abiding The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney is a middle-grade novel set in Louisiana during the tumultuous Prohibition years. This coming of age story focuses on the difficult choices and decisions one Italian immigrant family must face while desperately trying to keep their family together. I didn’t know much about this interesting time in our history when Italian/Sicilian mobsters terrorized American communities. I was fascinated by this story and how these crime sprees affected law-abiding families of Italian descent. This book provides fantastic discussion topics surrounding the repercussions that can arise when trying to do what is right, as well as, prohibition, segregation and immigration issues. This is another wonderful, thought-provoking book written by Cynthia T. Toney. I thoroughly enjoy her writing style with her signature knack of creating intriguing stories with interesting characters that readers care about. Great read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kaye Hinckley

    In 1925, Sal Scaviano is a conscientious thirteen year old Italian boy who loves his family, as well as the Louisiana fruit and vegetable farm in a town called Freedom--although at this point in his young life, Sal is questioning whether he should pursue farming when he becomes the good man he truly wants to be. His answer comes sooner than expected, as Sal witnesses his father forced by members of the Mob to be part of a robbery that ends in murder. Cynthia Toney does a superior job revealing S In 1925, Sal Scaviano is a conscientious thirteen year old Italian boy who loves his family, as well as the Louisiana fruit and vegetable farm in a town called Freedom--although at this point in his young life, Sal is questioning whether he should pursue farming when he becomes the good man he truly wants to be. His answer comes sooner than expected, as Sal witnesses his father forced by members of the Mob to be part of a robbery that ends in murder. Cynthia Toney does a superior job revealing Sal’s dismay and worry over what he should do; go to the police, or protect his father by keeping silent. The characters are strong, the pacing well done, and the story gives a clear picture of life for an Italian family in 1920’s America. Highly recommend.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Linda Sammaritan

    I love a good historical read, especially when an author can portray a great sense of setting in a middle grade novel. Cynthia T. Toney does an excellent job placing her reader in the Deep South during the days of Prohibition. The combination of bootleggers intimidating a small rural community and the entrenched discrimination against African Americans makes for enthralling conflict. But Toney goes farther than a good guy-bad guy story. She places Sal, a thirteen-year-old farm boy, in the unsett I love a good historical read, especially when an author can portray a great sense of setting in a middle grade novel. Cynthia T. Toney does an excellent job placing her reader in the Deep South during the days of Prohibition. The combination of bootleggers intimidating a small rural community and the entrenched discrimination against African Americans makes for enthralling conflict. But Toney goes farther than a good guy-bad guy story. She places Sal, a thirteen-year-old farm boy, in the unsettling--and sometimes terrifying--position of making choices that he knows are wrong, but must be done, in order to save lives. The climax offers no pat solutions. Sal can choose to make a decision for righteousness and more danger in his life and the lives of his family or he can allow a criminal to go free which will keep his family safe. Either decision comes with a high cost.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I purchased this book for my 12-year-old daughter because it was on her Christmas wish-list of new books out by her favorite authors. The Other Side of Freedom is another wonderful book by Christian author Cynthia Toney. And, like other Toney books I’ve read, this one is perfectly acceptable to share with the teens and tweens in your life: it is a clean read. 1920s Louisiana is the setting, so it’s perfect to work into a homeschool literature and history lesson as well. There is even a set of stu I purchased this book for my 12-year-old daughter because it was on her Christmas wish-list of new books out by her favorite authors. The Other Side of Freedom is another wonderful book by Christian author Cynthia Toney. And, like other Toney books I’ve read, this one is perfectly acceptable to share with the teens and tweens in your life: it is a clean read. 1920s Louisiana is the setting, so it’s perfect to work into a homeschool literature and history lesson as well. There is even a set of student study questions at the end. Another huge perk for families is that the main character is a boy and one of the main supporting characters is a girl, so (at lease it seems so in our house) both boys and girls will relate. In summary, members of an Italian immigrant family, due to no fault of their own, get mixed up in a Mafia crime. There is a little bit of violence, but not graphic. (My oldest is horrified at even the mention of blood, but she was able to enjoy this book.) She learned not only about immigrants and Prohibition, but also racial issues between Whites and Blacks during that period in American History. The story opens by immediately drawing you into the excitement. From there, the pace is even and the characters are well-developed. It is exciting and has some cool plot twists. If I’d had a little more time to myself, I would have been able to read it all in one sitting: it’s hard to put down. I’m very glad I bought this to add to my family’s collection of Cynthia Toney books, and I hope she keeps writing more!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Linden

    As a fan of historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney. This story, set in the 1920s, has so many historical and time-period details, from the 1924 Ford Model T Tudor to the mention of Al Capone and the first black man elected to the US Senate. The tension begins in the first scene when Sal finds well-dressed strangers at the door. And the tension mounts from there with an attempted bank robbery, a death, sneaking and spying, and a lot of tough choices an As a fan of historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney. This story, set in the 1920s, has so many historical and time-period details, from the 1924 Ford Model T Tudor to the mention of Al Capone and the first black man elected to the US Senate. The tension begins in the first scene when Sal finds well-dressed strangers at the door. And the tension mounts from there with an attempted bank robbery, a death, sneaking and spying, and a lot of tough choices and obstacles for thirteen-year-old Sal. Toney’s attention to descriptive and sensory details makes this story even stronger. This coming-of-age story about Sal, who belongs to a tight-knit Italian family, helps readers to understand the difficulties of farm life during this time period, the ugliness of segregation, and the courage of the immigrant. It also brings out a strong message of courage and self-sacrifice. I highly recommend this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I loved The Other Side of the Freedom - the writing, the story, the close-knit Italian family, and the early 20th century Louisiana strawberry farm setting. Cynthia Toney makes writing look easy with a story that flows smoothly. Young teen Sal, from whose point of view the story is told, is at the center of an Italian mob's high stakes scheme of running liquor through small Southern towns after Sal's dad and uncle are coerced into abetting them. The secondary characters - Sal's parents and uncle, I loved The Other Side of the Freedom - the writing, the story, the close-knit Italian family, and the early 20th century Louisiana strawberry farm setting. Cynthia Toney makes writing look easy with a story that flows smoothly. Young teen Sal, from whose point of view the story is told, is at the center of an Italian mob's high stakes scheme of running liquor through small Southern towns after Sal's dad and uncle are coerced into abetting them. The secondary characters - Sal's parents and uncle, his African American friend Hiram and his best friend Antonina - are interesting but remain rather static while Sal is the one who comes of age, deciding what cost he is willing to pay to serve the truth. This is Young Adult book, but there's nothing here to keep younger children or older teens and adults from enjoying the story as well.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    AAAHHH! My feelings! They were destroyed in this! So ... we're in the 1920s Louisiana. Of course, what are the 1920s famous for? PROHIBITION! BOOTLEGGERS! THE GREAT GATSBY ! Yes kids, there are bootleggers. Sal. The beginning of the end of his life started when a bunch of strangers talked to his dad and uncle on the farm. The poor kid. He always tried to do the right thing. I especially loved his relationship with Antonina. They were so cute! My favorite part with him was when he (view spoile AAAHHH! My feelings! They were destroyed in this! So ... we're in the 1920s Louisiana. Of course, what are the 1920s famous for? PROHIBITION! BOOTLEGGERS! THE GREAT GATSBY ! Yes kids, there are bootleggers. Sal. The beginning of the end of his life started when a bunch of strangers talked to his dad and uncle on the farm. The poor kid. He always tried to do the right thing. I especially loved his relationship with Antonina. They were so cute! My favorite part with him was when he (view spoiler)[ faced down Angelo and his lawyer. The Mob was brought down by a 13-year-old. Haha! (hide spoiler)] . I was surprised how calm he was when the Costa son and Mr. Lebato (view spoiler)[ refused to give him and his mother groceries (hide spoiler)] . I would've hit them. Antonina. Antonina is my favorite character. I want a friend like her. Do people like her exist? Or are they all dead? I don't know ... but anyway, her loyalty is impressive, a little too impressive. It was demonstrated when (view spoiler)[ she went with Sal to see if the Mob were still in the shack (hide spoiler)] , (view spoiler)[ when she wouldn't tell her parents how she got the welt on her neck when attacked by the Mob because of her friendship with Sal (hide spoiler)] , and (view spoiler)[ when she was in the courtroom when Sal faced off the criminals and their lawyers. I hated those lawyers. (hide spoiler)] . Hiram. Seriously, where can I get people like Sal's friends? Hiram rocked. He was always there for Sal and encouraged him to do the right thing. Hiram's best scene was when (view spoiler)[ he followed Sal and Antonina to the shack to make sure they were okay. AW!!! (hide spoiler)] . The plot was intense from the start to finish; there was never a dull moment. Never ever. The action was always expanding, and drama interplayed and eroded Sal's acquaintanceships once (view spoiler)[ his father was arrested for the bank robbery and Mr. Costa's death (hide spoiler)] . The ethics of the protagonists were solid and sound as everyone prayed for the dead and for their survival. There was even no swears. Pretty magical in today's world. :) There are absolutely no complaints here! Oh ... and I got Cynthia T. Toney to admit this, (view spoiler)[ Sal and Antonina get married eventually (hide spoiler)] . There. You're welcome. That part of the epilogue was killing you. Admit it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brices Mice Christian Book Reviews

    "Strangers. And none of them dressed like farmers." A tingling that creeps down 13 year old Sal's hairline, a stern look of warning from his dad to stay back and the glint of a revolver from the men on his porch sets this novel into action. The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney is a remarkable story of love and loyalty amidst the hardship of families in the 1920's. The mystery evolves and builds, adding characters that enhance and move along the flow of the story. I loved that Toney did n "Strangers. And none of them dressed like farmers." A tingling that creeps down 13 year old Sal's hairline, a stern look of warning from his dad to stay back and the glint of a revolver from the men on his porch sets this novel into action. The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney is a remarkable story of love and loyalty amidst the hardship of families in the 1920's. The mystery evolves and builds, adding characters that enhance and move along the flow of the story. I loved that Toney did not go overboard with excessive details and let me picture life and struggles of that era. Seeing life from a 13 year view and trying to understand exactly what the family was facing was an eye opener. Who children trust and how much they understand is quite the dilemma that they to face, even in this day. I loved how Toney quietly lays out ways to handle situations, still having the fear of reaping the consequences of their actions. I was not expecting the way the story wrapped up with it's twists, which added to the pleasure of reading this book. An easy read for middle school and up, a must read for all ages.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Loraine Kemp

    Cynthia T. Toney pulls her readers into her riveting story that follows an Italian immigrant family in the Deep South during Prohibition in the 1920's. Her obvious gifts of research treat her readers to a story that includes the mob and its effects on a small rural community. Sal, a thirteen-year-old boy watches powerlessly as his family is blackmailed into assisting the mob with a crime that goes bad. The resulting disaster is blamed on Sal's father and the community turns against the family to Cynthia T. Toney pulls her readers into her riveting story that follows an Italian immigrant family in the Deep South during Prohibition in the 1920's. Her obvious gifts of research treat her readers to a story that includes the mob and its effects on a small rural community. Sal, a thirteen-year-old boy watches powerlessly as his family is blackmailed into assisting the mob with a crime that goes bad. The resulting disaster is blamed on Sal's father and the community turns against the family to the point where their lives as farmers is jeopardized. But Sal soon uncovers treachery that forces him to make choices that will affect their lives forever. I highly recommend this book for teens, or anyone who is interested in an action-packed historical romp.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    Though this historical fiction was written for young teens, it would appeal to anyone interested in reading about the trials of Italian immigrants during the era of Prohibition. I'd heard of Al Capone and nefarious activities going on during the 1920's but never thought about the effects of that criminal activity upon the average family. The details are so richly drawn, I felt as if I'd been transported back in time. The main character, 13 year old Salvatore (Sal) lives on a strawberry farm with Though this historical fiction was written for young teens, it would appeal to anyone interested in reading about the trials of Italian immigrants during the era of Prohibition. I'd heard of Al Capone and nefarious activities going on during the 1920's but never thought about the effects of that criminal activity upon the average family. The details are so richly drawn, I felt as if I'd been transported back in time. The main character, 13 year old Salvatore (Sal) lives on a strawberry farm with his parents and young uncle, and his dilemma twisted my heart. This is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction. (And for a story in which the Mob plays a big role, it's squeaky clean.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    In Prohibition-era Louisiana, Sal struggles with questions of right and wrong as an organized-crime ring forces family members into involvement with bootlegging, with heartbreaking results. Keeping the secret will keep Sal and his parents alive, but is it worth the cost of losing contact with friends and his beloved uncle? Recommended for middle-school readers and young teens studying this period of American history.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Hogrefe Parnell

    Toney does an outstanding job telling a story that makes readers care while also realistically capturing the emotionally-charged challenges that an immigrant family could have faced in America. Highly recommend for middle grade students and families!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Denitta

    Compelling young adult novel that sensitively addresses race, creed and class distinctions of the Roaring Twenties. Should spark thoughtful discussions about family heritage, loyalties, stereotyping, and ethical decisionmaking.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Pina

    An enthralling tale! This is an amazing story that will suck you in and keep you turning the pages. I dare you to try and put it down! And the last page makes you want a sequel! Ms. Toney is an amazing writer. Her descriptions and characters bring the story to life. The details are interesting and the background of Italian immigrants intriguing. Very well done!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Literary Classics Book Awards & Reviews

    Sal Scaviano is a teenaged boy growing up during the days of prohibition. His family hails from Italy and has settled in a town called Freedom. Their life in the new country represents all his family has worked and sacrificed for to offer hope for a greater future. The Scavianos have worked hard to grow their small farming business. They are not wealthy, in fact, at times they've had to do without. But they have earned the respect of those in their community and in their field of work. One day S Sal Scaviano is a teenaged boy growing up during the days of prohibition. His family hails from Italy and has settled in a town called Freedom. Their life in the new country represents all his family has worked and sacrificed for to offer hope for a greater future. The Scavianos have worked hard to grow their small farming business. They are not wealthy, in fact, at times they've had to do without. But they have earned the respect of those in their community and in their field of work. One day Sal overhears an argument between his father and uncle, and a gang of Italian mobsters. It seems there's money to be made in bootlegging now that prohibition is in place. The mobsters need local connections and want to involve Sal's family. Despite his family's resistance, they are forced into the mobster's scheme and when they do the results are devastating. Sal and his best friend, Antonina, do their best to clear his family's name. But doing so proves to be more challenging than they ever could have imagined. Author Cynthia T. Toney has crafted a riveting coming of age novel which skillfully blends this tale with the historical elements of that era. As the young man struggles with knowing whom he can and cannot trust he learns the blurred lines between right and wrong are not always so easy to discern. Toney's The Other Side of Freedom is a powerful story that will resonate with readers of all ages. Recommended for home and school libraries.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Grant Leishman

    Reviewed For Readers' Favorite by Grant Leishman The Other Side if Freedom by Cynthia T Toney takes us back to 1925, pre-depression Louisiana and the small town of Freedom. Salvatore is just thirteen, but this son of Italian immigrants is a hard-working farm boy, whose parents and Uncle have struggled to make a good life for themselves in this rural area. Prohibition is in full swing in America and when Italian mobsters come to town and demand Sal’s father’s help in their plans to rob the Freedo Reviewed For Readers' Favorite by Grant Leishman The Other Side if Freedom by Cynthia T Toney takes us back to 1925, pre-depression Louisiana and the small town of Freedom. Salvatore is just thirteen, but this son of Italian immigrants is a hard-working farm boy, whose parents and Uncle have struggled to make a good life for themselves in this rural area. Prohibition is in full swing in America and when Italian mobsters come to town and demand Sal’s father’s help in their plans to rob the Freedom bank, or they will hurt his family, Sal’s family finds themselves in a moral quandary. When the bank robbery goes awry, Sal is left with a secret that could destroy their entire lives and set their family on the run. This young man must weigh up the rights and wrongs of the situation and make a decision that he and the rest of his family can live with. Sal is just discovering his feelings and attraction to his best friend, Antonina and whatever decisions he and the family make are almost certain to affect the relationship. This is indeed a dilemma of morals. I found The Other Side of Freedom to be a truly compelling coming-of-age story. The setting was beautifully described by Cynthia T Toney and one felt oneself being drawn back to the era of gangsters, the G-Men, and bootlegging across the south. The feel of the story was authentic and action fast and furious. I particularly found it interesting to compare the experience faced by the Italian and Sicilian immigrants of the 19th and early 20th Centuries to those of the immigrants of today. They faced discrimination and generalisation – they are Sicilians, therefore they must be gangsters and criminals where today we see, they are Arabs, therefore they must be terrorists. I also found interesting that Sal found some sympathy and empathy with his black friend Hiram in that the prejudices they both faced were somewhat similar. I particularly liked the fact that Toney offered some questions at the end of the book for younger readers to consider and reflect on the story. This is an excellent children’s story that poses some interesting moral dilemmas for the young readers to ponder.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kaderly Welsh

    History and mystery tie into exciting YA novel set in Prohibition The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney is a well-written, action-packed novel that looks at the cost of decisions. I enjoy going back in history and imagining what it was like living in a different time, knowing the people in the story. This is a fresh story about a time period and group of people I haven’t read much about so I found it especially eye-opening. Set in the 1920s in Louisiana, young Sal wrestles with doing the righ History and mystery tie into exciting YA novel set in Prohibition The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney is a well-written, action-packed novel that looks at the cost of decisions. I enjoy going back in history and imagining what it was like living in a different time, knowing the people in the story. This is a fresh story about a time period and group of people I haven’t read much about so I found it especially eye-opening. Set in the 1920s in Louisiana, young Sal wrestles with doing the right thing in situations that are unclear at times—when doing the right thing may mean more danger or punishment or persecution. Readers fall into a small town being affected by the mafia and bootlegging during the Prohibition. One also learns about discrimination of Italians and Negroes. My daughters also found this an excellent book. The following is what they said: Emily, 12, said the book was exciting and interesting with no boring parts. She liked Sal and Antonina and the tension brought on by their detective work. Kaitlyn, 15, said she was in constant suspense and wanted to keep reading to know what would happen. She said it was a good story, never boring. While trying to figure out who the bad cop was she found herself second guessing. She hopes there is a sequel because she would like to know what happens to grown up Sal and Antonina. I think teachers would find value using this book in the classroom because there would be many points for discussion, and it would be a book both boys and girls would find appealing. I hope you’ll find a copy to share with a young person in your life.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Haggerty

    Mobsters in the roaring 20s with a southern country turn. The Other Side of Freedom provides suspense and tension throughout with interesting and ethnically diverse characters. Sal has a moral dilemma, tell the truth and maybe prevent the mobsters from more robbing and murdering, or obey your parents and protect your innocent father from going to jail. The relational twist at the end also made for a satisfying read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Naiman

    Exploring ethnic and racial discrimination, burgeoning sexuality, violent intimidation, and family cohesion, The Other Side of Freedom makes for compelling historical fiction. Sal, the young protagonist, is faced with a series of moral dilemmas and his actions or inactions have potentially dire consequences. Readers young and old will enjoy the relentless plot, eclectic characters, and high stakes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    A Delightful Glimpse into a Different Era Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and the Roaring Twenties a fascinating era. The time of Prohibition, mobsters, and segregation was a complicated time. This story of prejudice and justice is beautifully told through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Sal, a first generation Italian boy. It’s both exciting and thought provoking for both young adults and fully grown ones.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julane Fisher

    Great historical novel for kids! Dealt with a lot of tough subjects for young people including honesty, loss, and family. IMO suitable for ages 10-12. I think boys will enjoy the references to the Mob, gangsters, robbery, and murder all while teaching positive values.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    I’m not a YA reader, but I knew I needed the experience. I’m glad this was my first venture into one after nearly six decades. Toney writes a captivating story with great imagery and character interplay. I started off with some skepticism because of the cemetery description in the beginning. She mentions paint chips and tombstones blackened even though they were but a few years old. Earlier we were told the immigrant family lived near the Illinois Central Railroad. I wrongly assumed they were in I’m not a YA reader, but I knew I needed the experience. I’m glad this was my first venture into one after nearly six decades. Toney writes a captivating story with great imagery and character interplay. I started off with some skepticism because of the cemetery description in the beginning. She mentions paint chips and tombstones blackened even though they were but a few years old. Earlier we were told the immigrant family lived near the Illinois Central Railroad. I wrongly assumed they were in southern Illinois. The graveyards there do not match her description. A few pages later it’s revealed they live in Louisiana. Then it all fell together. The story flows and the characters are believable—especially the juvenile logic that puts everyone at risk. I hope location tip will help you enjoy the book more fully as you take my recommendation for this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christine Johnson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Margaret H

  29. 4 out of 5

    Annette O'Hare

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kathrese

  32. 5 out of 5

    A.J. Cattapan

  33. 4 out of 5

    Karen Deblieck

  34. 5 out of 5

    Fay Lamb

  35. 5 out of 5

    Beth Steury

  36. 4 out of 5

    Shylock

  37. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

  38. 4 out of 5

    Marji Laine

  39. 4 out of 5

    Bice

  40. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  41. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm22

  42. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  43. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Dee

  44. 5 out of 5

    Ashton

  45. 4 out of 5

    Carmela

  46. 4 out of 5

    Donna

  47. 5 out of 5

    Pat

  48. 4 out of 5

    Fiori

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