Monday, September 28, 2020

Freedom Lessons by Eileen Harrison Sanchez - Book Tour + Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Sept 28 to Oct 9, 2020!

Book Details:

Book TitleFreedom Lessons (a novel) by Eileen Harrison Sanchez
CategoryAdult Fiction (18+) ,  245 pages
Genre: American Historical Fiction
Publisher:  She Writes Press
Release date:   November 2019
Content Rating:  PG. This book is a clean read. The use of the words Negro, colored and a one time reference use of nigger, though not politically correct by today's standards, is era specific and not intended in any kind of pejorative sense.

Chosen as a 2020 Pulpwood Queens Book Club pick
2019 Best Book Awards Finalist in Fiction (Multicultural)

“This powerful tale offers a beacon of hope that individuals can inspire change.”
Library Journal

Book Description:

Freedom Lessons begins in Louisiana 1969 as Colleen, a white northern teacher, enters into the unfamiliar culture of a small Southern town and its unwritten rules as the town surrenders to mandated school integration. She meets Frank, a black high school football player, who is protecting his family with a secret. And Evelyn, an experienced teacher and prominent member of the local black community, who must decide whether she’s willing to place trust in her new white colleague. Told alternately by Colleen, Frank, and Evelyn, Freedom Lessons is the story of how the lives of these three purportedly different people intersect in a time when our nation faced, as it does today, a crisis of race, unity, and identity. 

School desegregation is something we all learn about in history class; perhaps we even remember the striking image of Ruby Bridges being escorted to and from school by the U.S. Marshals. But for most of us in 2019, that’s near the extent of what we understand about that tumultuous time. Eileen Sanchez, the debut novelist behind Freedom Lessons (She Writes Press, November 12, 2019), draws on her own remarkable experience as a young, white teacher in the Jim Crow South during desegregation, to write her immersive work of fiction inspired by those events. The result is an unusually authentic exploration of a snapshot in history through the eyes of characters that are relatable and unmistakably human—living lives and navigating relationships against the backdrop of extreme societal upheaval. Sanchez has woven a beautiful story not just about desegregation as an abstract concept, but about the people who lived it—and asks us to question our assumptions about that time, and the issues it has left in its 50-year wake. 

Author Interview

Q: What made you write a book about school integration?
A: Ten years ago, I was at a professional educational conference in New Orleans, LA. After a long day of presentations, we went out to Pat O’Brien’s, a great bar in the French Quarter. If you ever visit NOLA be sure to go there to have a Hurricane and request your favorite song to be played by the dueling pianos. In between the drinks and entertainment, I surprised the people I was with when I told them I had taught in a small rural town in Louisiana that closed the black school overnight on November 4, 1969. I always knew the impact it had on my personal history, but that revelation made me realize how significant the event was in the history of our country. I was a witness and felt a responsibility to share it. At the time, our first grandchild, who is bi-racial, was two years old and a friend challenged me to write about my life during that year so that all my grandchildren would learn about it.

 Q: What challenges did you face while setting "Freedom Lessons" in a rural Louisiana
town in 1969?
A:  The biggest challenge was that the story was forty years old when I started to write it. It started out as a memoir but as I wrote it I realized that I wasn’t telling the complete story and I wanted to know the facts, the history of the time and the area. I also wasn’t a writer, a story teller and I decided to take a workshop on writing. The teacher of the workshop asked us to write a scene we had already written from another point of view. I chose to write in the voice of a high school student experiencing the same sudden school closure. After that the memoir developed into historical fiction from three points of view.

Q: How did you write in the voice of Black characters?
A: The voices of the Black characters came from a tremendous amount of research, fiction and non-fiction books, newspapers and magazines of the time, headlines from national and local papers, and several dissertations but most importantly one titled “Even the Books Were Separate”. Related to the challenge of writing in the voice of “other”, I asked two Black authors to read and edit the story. They made some suggestions and I made changes but mainly they felt that I captured the Black perspective fairly.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
A: Everywhere! Life, friends, and acquaintances will give a writer inspiration but then the writer needs to take the time to create. A friend of mine says, “It’s all about the story.” Everyone has a story – if you see someone stuck on the side of the road you can imagine and create a story of how that happened. Did they run out of gas? Get a flat? Who helps them? Why? Newspaper headlines can give us hundreds of prompts for stories. Good stories will have a universal theme or a moral, or a mystery solved, a lesson to learn.

Q: How do you make sure to draw readers into your stories?
A: The first pages must draw the reader in. Pacing is important, relatable characters, building characters that readers care about, all of these are the parts of the story that I focus on. But one thing to keep in mind is that every book will find its readers but not every book is for every reader.

Q: What have you learned about yourself since you became an author?
A: That you are never too old to try something new and perhaps find a new career. I’m a debut author in my seventh decade and I have expanded my writing community from one writing group to a vast community of authors and readers.

Meet the Author:

Eileen Harrison Sanchez is now retired after a forty-year career in education. She started as a teacher and ended as a district administrator. She has been writing part time for seven years with a writers group in Summit, NJ. Eileen is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Philadelphia Stories Writers Community, Goodreads American Historical Novels Group, and several online writers’ groups. A reader, a writer, and a perennial—a person with a no-age mindset—she considers family and friends to be the most important parts of her life, followed by traveling and bird watching from her gazebo.

connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ instagram

Tour Schedule:

Sep 28 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
Sep 28 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Sep 29 – All Booked Up Reviews – book review
Sep 29 - Pen Possessed – book review
Sep 30 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Sep 30 - Rajiv's Reviews – book review
Oct 1 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 2 – eBook addicts – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 5 – Book World Reviews – book review  
Oct 5 - Momfluenster - book review / giveaway
Oct 5 - Jackie's Book Reviews - book review
Oct 5 - Hall Ways Blog - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 6 – Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway
Oct 6 - Books and Zebras – book review
Oct 7 – My Fictional Oasis – book review
Oct 7 - She Just Loves Books – book review / giveaway
Oct 8 – Literary Flits – book review / giveaway
Oct 8 - Divas With A Purpose - book review / author interview
Oct 9 – On My Bookshelf – book review / author interview / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway




  1. Thrilled to be on this blog tour! Thanks for featuring me Jazzy Book Reviews! This is a great way to meet readers as we socially- distance. I wish all good health. Stay safe. Visit me on Facebook! Eileen


Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.