Sunday, February 23, 2014

Readdreamrelax #30 Look to the Hills; The Diary of Lozette Moreau, a French Slave Girl, New York Colony, 1763 by Patricia McKissack

Summary: In acclaimed author Patricia McKissack's latest addition to the Dear America line, Lozette, a French slave, whose masters uproot her and bring her to America, must find her place in the New World.

Arriving with her French masters in upstate New York at the tail end of the French-Indian War, Lozette, "Zettie," an orphaned slave girl, is confronted with new landscapes, new conditions, and new conflicts. As her masters are torn between their own nationality and their somewhat reluctant new allegiance to the British colonial government, Zettie, too, must reconsider her own loyalties.

Since I am determined to read all of Dear America series along with Royal Diairies and My Name is America, I decided to give a try to Look to the Hills by Patricia C. McKissack which I had to borrow from a library that’s far away from my house. Patricia C McKissack has previously written A Picture of Freedom which I liked due to the picture of daily life of slavery as well as having an interesting protagonist that knew how to read and write and applied this knowledge to solving problems. Unfortunately, I found Look to the Hills by Patricia to be disappointing and it doesn’t look like I’ll be recommending the book to be read for fun.

Lozette Moreau is an African girl who lives in France with a wealthy family in France in 1763. Just like her mistress, Marie-Louise, Lozette is well-educated, well-read and is an intellectual. Lozette also happens to be an orphan, her mother dying shortly after her birth. Considering the fact that the image of slaves that was passed down the history is those who are illeterate, Lozette Moreau is very unusual during the time and the setting. Problems arise in the family, namely that one brother wants to sell Lozette and Marie-Louise, reluctant to part from her companion, makes a choice to run away in search of the older brother to New York.

Although the summary and the story were pretty fascinating, I ended up having some problems with Look to the Hills by Patricia C McKissack. One of the problems that I had with the book is that Lozette Moreau didn’t really sound like a twelve-year old, at least for me. She focuses more on external events rather than her own feelings and ideas, which is unusual because Lozette is well educated. I think I also hoped more for character development and instead the characters seemed to be cut out of cardboard. In Look to the Hills by Patricia C McKissack, there is also a scene where a woman tells Lozette to always look to the hills so she can understand the meaning of freedom. The problem with that scene is that Lozette is two years old, and let’s be honest, how many two year olds remember what they were told at that age, especially for ten years?!

Personally for me, the characters were all one-dimensional and neither were they interesting or ones I wanted to make acquaintance with. Unfortunately, I found myself unable to connect to anyone in Look to the Hills, and I’m really uncertain why. I also feel that the characters weren’t very compelling either. Another character is that of Sally, an indentured servant who seems to be a foil to Lozette. Although Sally has some freedom, she is unable to read and works at a store, but Lozette never mentions Sally’s race. If she did, it might have been an interesting contrast between an African girl that is able to read and a white girl that cannot read.

Some things that I found pretty fascinating in Look to the Hills by Patricia C MicKissack are the different attitudes that French and English had towards slavery. French people, for instance, created something titled Black Code which are laws that are used to protect the rights of slaves in France. Marie-Louise, a woman duelist who could win against men and who also happened to be Lozette’s mistress is admirable in her actions and that she was willing to risk her life just to keep Lozette next to her. Also, the relationships between French, Native Americans and British were fascinating for me. Unlike the British, French people respected Native American culture.

If you have nothing else to read, then I would advise for Look to the Hills by Patricia C McKissack to be read because I don’t think its pretty vital to the Dear America canon. In case if Lozette Moreau was trying to be “Clotee” from A Picture of Freedom, then Patricia C McKissack wasn’t successful in getting her to be that character.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

3 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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