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All We Were Promised    by Ashton Lattimore order for
All We Were Promised
by Ashton Lattimore
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2024 (2024)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Nell, a free Black woman in Philadephia's 1840s, has been working with women's groups to further the cause but is impatient with the 'all talk and no action' ways of her fellow members. Charlotte is a runaway slave brought to Philadelphia by her father. Luckily for him, he can pass for white and enjoy all the freedoms of the city, but his solution for Charlotte, who is darker-hued, is to make her his housekeeper, basically keeping her at home out of sight. A southern household slave, Evie, has been brought along on a trip north by a mistress she loathes, and plans to use the opportunity to run away.

As these women meet and begin to help each other we learn about the life of Blacks at that time. The struggle for freedom had to continue, even in a city where Blacks were legally free. They needed to be extra careful, always mindful that many around them would use any opportunity to undo whatever gains they had made. For example, Charlotte's father, a gifted furniture maker, knew very well that his livelihood depended upon his being able to convince the world he was white.

These stories need to be told, and this one helps fill in some of the historical blanks.

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