When the Slave Esperanca Garcia Wrote a Letter -- Book Review

Disclosure: Groundwood Books gave me a copy of this book free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation.  As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

Continuing with true stories, here is a story about a courageous slave in Brazil. It is a story I hope more people will become familiar with and this book is the perfect start. When the Slave Esperanca Garcia Wrote a Letter by Sonia Rosa and illustrated by Luciana Justiniani Hees is based on the true story of a Brazilian slave named Esperanca Garcia. It is based on the copy of the letter found in the public archives of Piaui in 1979. As a result September 6 is now Black Consciousness Day in the state. Schools and cultural groups are now named after Esperanca Garcia. The original letter is in Lisbon, Portugal.

This story is written in first person. It shares what Sonia Rosa made up for Esperanca Garcia's thoughts and life. Our knowledge of Esperanca begins as a married slave living in Fazenda dos Algoadoes, a cotton farm owned by Jesuit priests. The priests are kind to Esperanca and her family. They teach her to read and write and convert her to Catholicism. After the priests are forced to leave the country, Esperanca and her two youngest children are forced to go the home of Captain Antonio Vieira de Couto. In this home she and her children are beaten. She does not understand the reasons why. She misses her husband and older two children. She has not been able to baptize her youngest. She is frustrated. She decides the only person who can help her is the governor so she writes a letter to him.

The letter is dated September 6, 1770 and is addressed ti the governor of Maranhao, Goncalo, Lourenco Botelho de Castro. There is no knowledge of whether she received a response, but you can imagine her anticipation and hope of help coming.

This book shares a story that needs to be more well known about a woman's courage to try to fix her life as well as others. She did not ask for freedom but just asked to be with her family and not beaten. What an amazing thing. This is a must read for any school discussing slavery and should be part of any library.