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In 1976 Rama Chandra, an 18 year-old boy of Indian and Arab descent, flees the Middle East along with his wealthy family after the military takes over the old country. When they move into the Michigan Suburb of Sunbeam Township and buy an expensive estate, they set tongues to wagging. Soon, however, the charming, handsome Rama wins his high-school peers over and becomes a heartthrob.

At 16, Bess Hawkins is an outspoken feminist. Her views and the belligerence with which she espouses them make her deeply disliked at Sunbeam High by students and faculty alike. At four-foot nine inches tall, she is constantly bullied. Having grown up in a commune with her hippee parents until their death two-years earlier, Bess has become the legal ward of her divorced Uncle, Jason Trask. A ruthless business man and sometimes violent, Jason has become the town's most powerful citizen.

Bess lives with Jason and his high-school aged daughter and son. Except for the servants, everyone in the home ridicules her. Still she fights on.

When Rama and Bess meet, Bess informs him how backward his culture is regarding women. Viewed as rude, Bess is punished by a school official for her comments while Rama admires her outspokenness. When he witnesses two acts of violence toward her in one day, he sets out to protect her.

Because of the buzz Rama's presence has created at the school, he is asked to speak at a class assembly. During the assembly, he announces that he's going to pick a Princess at the Independence Day Celebration. The girls clamor to him, but Loretta, Bess's cousin whom she lives with, believes she'll be the chosen one.

When Jason takes a business trip, Rama sees an opportunity to rescue Bess, by force, the way they do in the Middle East. Bess is appalled and fights back but is no match.

In Rama's company and with his family, Bess feels loved and respected. She soon agrees to marry Rama. The pair finds happiness with each other, but there are many obstacles to overcome before they can be wed.

I felt Liberation was a well-thought out and meticulously plotted book. Every scene had a point that contributed to the whole story.

However, I had trouble with Bess's abrupt change of heart regarding her desire to cook, clean, become a wife, and have children, especially at 16. Once fierce in her opinions, Bess seems to lose her identity all together after falling in love.

Regardless, I must compliment the author for taking on such a broad range of topics. She hits on life in the Middle East, racism, feminism and a host of other social issues.

Book Blurb for Liberation

It's the bright summer of 1976, and the whole population of Sunbeam Township is gearing up for their

Bicentennial Fair. The only one not celebrating is local outcast Bess Hawkins. An orphaned teenager,

she's routinely bullied by her wealthy uncle, Jason Trask, and his daughter Loretta. When an Arabic

refugee, Rama Chandra, moves into this sleepy little community, he suspects that Bess is being

beaten by her guardians. Whisking Bess away from the Trask mansion, he hides her out at his

country estate. This leads to a confrontation that teaches everyone in town the true meaning of


Night Owl Reviews Oct, 2007 4.00