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Alice and Freda Forever by Alexis Coe

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis
In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation – it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell planned to pass as a man and marry seventeen-year-old Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden to ever speak again. Desperate and isolated, Alice pilfered her father’s razor, and on a cold winter’s day, she slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Now more than 120 years later, their tragic but true story is being told. Alice + Freda Forever, by historian Alexis Coe and with illustrations by Sally Klann, is embellished with letters, maps, historical documents, and more. (Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe / Published by Zest Books and distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / ISBN-13: 978-1-936976-60-7 / $16.99 Hardcover; 224 pages, Ages 16+)

Alexis Coe is a columnist at The Awl and The Toast. She has contributed to The AtlanticSlateThe Millions,The HairpinLA WeeklyThe Bay CitizenMission at TenthThe Paris Review Daily, Los Angeles Review of Books and other publications. Before moving to San Francisco, she was a research curator at the New York Public Library, where she co-curated the most popular exhibition in the library's 101 years, and a project-based oral historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society. 

This is a captivating account, and readers will quickly become absorbed in the suspense surrounding Freda’s murder. Additionally, the book provides a foundation for discussion of sociocultural themes, such as how LGBT relationships have historically been viewed by society, gender and femininity, and even journalism.” –★ School Library Journal [Starred Review] 
"The murder was a national sensation at the time, but is little known today. Alexis Coe....retells it here with the color and liveliness of a novel."  - The New Yorker


In the eighteen hundreds there was not as much of a public acceptance of being in love with the same sex. Being gay or lesbian meant hiding in the fringes of society if you wanted to carry out what you mind is telling you. The fact of the matter is that gay and lesbian still existed in all time periods and this story talks about one account. This account is twisted with murder and insanity though.

It was interesting to read about this story with so many levels of insanity and excitement. We don't come across someone who loves someone else so much that they need to kill them when they are taken away. It was sad on some levels because it is hard to understand why someone would want to kill the person that they love. On the other hand I could see being enraged if my wife was just taken away from me. This account of this upside down story is interesting and would be informative for all types of readers.

3.5 Stars

Reviewed by Chris

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