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Set Me Free

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Three years after being kidnapped and rendered a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment to determine the cause of her deafness, fourteen year old Mary Lambert is summoned from her home in Martha's Vineyard to the mainland to teach a younger deaf girl to communicate with sign language. She can't help but wonder, Can a child of eight with no prior language be taught? Still, w Three years after being kidnapped and rendered a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment to determine the cause of her deafness, fourteen year old Mary Lambert is summoned from her home in Martha's Vineyard to the mainland to teach a younger deaf girl to communicate with sign language. She can't help but wonder, Can a child of eight with no prior language be taught? Still, weary of domestic life and struggling to write as she used to, Mary pours all her passion into the pursuit of freeing this child from the prison of her isolation. But when she arrives at the manor, Mary discovers that there is much more to the girl's story -- and the circumstances of her confinement -- than she ever could have imagined. Freeing her suddenly takes on a much greater meaning -- and risk.


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Three years after being kidnapped and rendered a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment to determine the cause of her deafness, fourteen year old Mary Lambert is summoned from her home in Martha's Vineyard to the mainland to teach a younger deaf girl to communicate with sign language. She can't help but wonder, Can a child of eight with no prior language be taught? Still, w Three years after being kidnapped and rendered a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment to determine the cause of her deafness, fourteen year old Mary Lambert is summoned from her home in Martha's Vineyard to the mainland to teach a younger deaf girl to communicate with sign language. She can't help but wonder, Can a child of eight with no prior language be taught? Still, weary of domestic life and struggling to write as she used to, Mary pours all her passion into the pursuit of freeing this child from the prison of her isolation. But when she arrives at the manor, Mary discovers that there is much more to the girl's story -- and the circumstances of her confinement -- than she ever could have imagined. Freeing her suddenly takes on a much greater meaning -- and risk.

30 review for Set Me Free

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kathy MacMillan

    In Show Me a Sign, Ann Clare LeZotte introduced us to Mary Lambert and the people of Martha’s Vineyard in the early 1800s, where nearly everyone signed and deaf islanders were fully integrated into the life of the island. The Mary we meet in Set Me Free, three years after she was kidnapped and dragged to the mainland to be experimented upon, is warier and wiser. When she is offered the chance to tutor an eight-year-old deaf girl who seems to have no access to communication, she says yes, though In Show Me a Sign, Ann Clare LeZotte introduced us to Mary Lambert and the people of Martha’s Vineyard in the early 1800s, where nearly everyone signed and deaf islanders were fully integrated into the life of the island. The Mary we meet in Set Me Free, three years after she was kidnapped and dragged to the mainland to be experimented upon, is warier and wiser. When she is offered the chance to tutor an eight-year-old deaf girl who seems to have no access to communication, she says yes, though she has no idea of the web of secrets and lies she will uncover when she leaves the island to go to the fine manor house. Mary relies on her wits and her own internal moral compass to communicate with the hearing people in the house, always determined to reach the girl - determined not to give up on her, even if her own family already has. Along the way, Mary must confront old friends and enemies, and reckon with the web of prejudice around her, even in her own family and history. LeZotte once again offers a nuanced picture of history, naturally incorporating characters of many backgrounds into the story and showing how the lives of the Wampanoag, black, and white characters are intertwined both on the island and the mainland. Mary remains both passionate and compassionate even as she learns greater patience for those whose minds have not been opened as much as her own. At a family dinner, Papa toasts Mary by signing, “To our Mary, in all her beautiful contradictions.” LeZottte’s work, in turn, shines a light on the beautiful contradictions in every one of us.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    "A person is intelligent even if they don't have language." p.46 "She's reawakening. A child I'm not acquainted with but would like to know." p. 237 "The attainment of a purity that's never existed poisons the people and land we share..." p. 253 "A person is intelligent even if they don't have language." p.46 "She's reawakening. A child I'm not acquainted with but would like to know." p. 237 "The attainment of a purity that's never existed poisons the people and land we share..." p. 253

  3. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    I was very lucky to get my hand on an ARC of this much anticipated sequel thanks to a loan from a dear friend. The universe blessed me with a great rainy day after - so I finished this in one sitting! The story follows Mary who is still recovering from the traumas of Show Me A Sign and is now also trying to answer the big question - what will she do with her life? Will she have a vocation? Will she get married like her mother wants her to? Mary is an incredibly introspective and honest character I was very lucky to get my hand on an ARC of this much anticipated sequel thanks to a loan from a dear friend. The universe blessed me with a great rainy day after - so I finished this in one sitting! The story follows Mary who is still recovering from the traumas of Show Me A Sign and is now also trying to answer the big question - what will she do with her life? Will she have a vocation? Will she get married like her mother wants her to? Mary is an incredibly introspective and honest character for a young teen, yet her emotional outbursts remind us of her youth. There are some really great, but also painful moments, where she clashes a bit with her mom on her purpose in life. Luckily for Mary, she is invited to teach a girl on the mainland who is believed to be deaf. The letter is mysterious and vague, but Mary chooses to chase after the call anyways. Mary takes a big leap of faith in leaving the safety of her home, where she is surrounded by a community who can sign and understand that her deafness is not an affliction. She believes she is prepared to enter back into a world where deafness is looked down upon, but what she finds of the girl’s predicament is shocking and horrific in ways that Mary never expected. Mary is challenged throughout the book to overcome societal expectations of women and their power, to hold on to truth in the face of evil, and to do what is right even when it puts you and others at risk. Mary’s story is one of adventure - without shying away from the racism, sexism, and colonialism rampant in the world. If you liked the first companion novel, you will certainly love this one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was thrilled to receive an ARC of this book. This is a truly wonderful sequel to Show Me A Sign. Mary is still recovering from her harrowing journey home after being kidnapped as a test subject, when she receives a mysterious letter requesting her help. She travels from her home to the mainland, where she arrives at a mansion with a terrible secret. Inside this beautiful manor, known as the Vale, is a child. Mary gives her the nickname Ladybird. The child is believed to be a deaf mute and Mary I was thrilled to receive an ARC of this book. This is a truly wonderful sequel to Show Me A Sign. Mary is still recovering from her harrowing journey home after being kidnapped as a test subject, when she receives a mysterious letter requesting her help. She travels from her home to the mainland, where she arrives at a mansion with a terrible secret. Inside this beautiful manor, known as the Vale, is a child. Mary gives her the nickname Ladybird. The child is believed to be a deaf mute and Mary has been hired to teach her sign language as a way to communicate. What Mary did not expect from her new job was the squalor and abuse that Ladybird is being forced to live with. After many attempts to understand what’s really going on, Mary realizes that Ladybird is literate when she writes her name, Beatrice. She also sees a horrible scar on Beatrice and seeks more answers from those working in the manor. Just as she thinks she’s learning Beatrice’s real story, Mary is fired from her position and told to leave. With the help of her friend and an unexpected ally, she must return to The Vale to rescue Beatrice once and for all. But will Mary rescue her from one bad situation just to throw her into another? While keeping you on the edge of your seat with adventure, this book looks deeply into issues of racism, bias, and discrimination. It’s a great continuation of Mary’s story.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Yapha

    This sequel to Show Me a Sign continues to look at the history of the Deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 1800s. In addition to addressing anti-Deaf sentiment in most of the hearing world, it also looks at other types of discrimination include that against Native Americans and African Americans. Mary is still recovering from her ordeal when she is asked to come help a younger girl who may also be deaf. Although she comes from a well-to-do family, she is locked away in a room and tre This sequel to Show Me a Sign continues to look at the history of the Deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 1800s. In addition to addressing anti-Deaf sentiment in most of the hearing world, it also looks at other types of discrimination include that against Native Americans and African Americans. Mary is still recovering from her ordeal when she is asked to come help a younger girl who may also be deaf. Although she comes from a well-to-do family, she is locked away in a room and treated like a wild animal. Because of her experience as an "experiment," Mary knows in her heart that she must try and help. But nothing is quite what it seems. Highly recommended for grades 4 and up. It can stand alone, but better to read Show Me a Sign first. eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    EARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Excellent! Follow-ups and sequels make me a little nervous, but in this case I had nothng to fear. I loved this story of Mary's travels to help a younger girl who is deaf, and I was hooked throughout the story's twists and turns. EARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Excellent! Follow-ups and sequels make me a little nervous, but in this case I had nothng to fear. I loved this story of Mary's travels to help a younger girl who is deaf, and I was hooked throughout the story's twists and turns.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura Gardner

    Happy pub day to this fabulous sequel to Show Me a Sign! . . . Why I love Set Me Free: ✅ historical mystery ✅ explores marginalized populations in early America ✅ weaves together the effects of racism, ableism and colonialism, as well as early feminism ✅ fascinating look at dDeaf culture and MVSL in particular ✅ could not put it down! ✅ interesting look at the limits of friendship and the inability to ever fully understand someone else's situation . . . Mary Lambert is one of my favorite characters from 2020 Happy pub day to this fabulous sequel to Show Me a Sign! . . . Why I love Set Me Free: ✅ historical mystery ✅ explores marginalized populations in early America ✅ weaves together the effects of racism, ableism and colonialism, as well as early feminism ✅ fascinating look at dDeaf culture and MVSL in particular ✅ could not put it down! ✅ interesting look at the limits of friendship and the inability to ever fully understand someone else's situation . . . Mary Lambert is one of my favorite characters from 2020, so I'm very happy to revisit her world again. Readers should likely read both books, but Set Me Free stands alone as its own story. These books are wonderful readalikes to The War that Saved My Life, which is wildly popular in our school. Both series are historical fiction books about disability, abuse, and personal transformation. . . . #middleschoollibrarian #middleschoollibrary #library #librarian #futurereadylibs #iteachlibrary #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #librariesofinstagram #librariansofinstagram #librariesfollowlibraries #librarylife #librarianlife #schoollibrarian #middlegrade #middlegradebooks #iteach #librarylove #booksbooksbooks #amreading #bibliophile #schoollibrariansrock #bookreview #bookrecommendation #igreads #malibrary #msla #mediaspecialist @annclarelezotte

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Dulaney

    LeZotte’s follow-up to award-winning Show Me a Sign is just as exciting as her first tale of Mary when she was kidnapped to be part of a cruel research project into the frequent occurrence of deafness on Martha’s Vineyard. In Set Me Free, Mary is back home in her beloved Chilmark, writing a history of the Vineyard and yearning to do something significant with her life. When an opportunity to teach a young deaf girl arises, Mary packs a trunk and heads for a mansion on the mainland, only to disco LeZotte’s follow-up to award-winning Show Me a Sign is just as exciting as her first tale of Mary when she was kidnapped to be part of a cruel research project into the frequent occurrence of deafness on Martha’s Vineyard. In Set Me Free, Mary is back home in her beloved Chilmark, writing a history of the Vineyard and yearning to do something significant with her life. When an opportunity to teach a young deaf girl arises, Mary packs a trunk and heads for a mansion on the mainland, only to discover that not only does she share deafness with the girl, but kidnapping as well. Readers will follow her attempts to free and teach Beatrice with interest and along the way, will learn much about the post-Revolutionary War time period. Target age for this book, as well as its predecessor is wide, but is likely to appeal to lovers of historical fiction from grades 5 through adult. End notes provide even more historical reference and may spur further research. No incidences of profanity, one ambiguous comment about inappropriate sexual advances, violence is necessary to the plot but is not excessive. Thanks for the advance reader copy, Scholastic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Casey Jo

    I *adored* LeZotte's debut, so was so excited for this book (and a little nervous.) It DID NOT DISAPPOINT! When LeZotte takes on a project, she goes there with all her heart, and she brings us along for the ride. And add mystery to the list of genres Le Zotte excels at. - Mary's a little older now, and has more control over her situation, but the stakes are still high, and now Mary's the one who needs to save someone else. - I cheered when Ezra Brewer showed up. And the second it was described tha I *adored* LeZotte's debut, so was so excited for this book (and a little nervous.) It DID NOT DISAPPOINT! When LeZotte takes on a project, she goes there with all her heart, and she brings us along for the ride. And add mystery to the list of genres Le Zotte excels at. - Mary's a little older now, and has more control over her situation, but the stakes are still high, and now Mary's the one who needs to save someone else. - I cheered when Ezra Brewer showed up. And the second it was described that he looked less strong than before, I knew where things were going. In a good way - it prepared me. And kids will be bowled over. Ezra!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!! - The slow build to finally meeting Ladybird is agonizingly perfect. - OMG, just all of it. And LeZotte doesn't shy away from serious, complex conversations at the end. I'm here for it, and the kids will be too! The reference notes at the end are great too. I notice some reviews say that Mary feels "modern" in her reflections on race and racism, but you know what? The readers are modern. And while it was (is) rare for a white person to be that conscientious, plenty of Black, Indigenous and mixed people have known about what's going on for a long time. I love Mary, and I love Ann Clare LeZotte!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennybeast

    Not as polished as Show Me a Sign, and I'm in two minds about whether that is a weakness, or whether it opens more windows into what Deaf narrative structure feels like. Sometimes the transitions between paragraphs or thoughts feel abrupt to me, but LaZotte's storytelling is as compelling as ever and it's really good to be back with Mary Lambert again. The child she helps and the mystery she solves are all too believable examples of cruelty to the non-hearing and non-white people. Sometimes Mary Not as polished as Show Me a Sign, and I'm in two minds about whether that is a weakness, or whether it opens more windows into what Deaf narrative structure feels like. Sometimes the transitions between paragraphs or thoughts feel abrupt to me, but LaZotte's storytelling is as compelling as ever and it's really good to be back with Mary Lambert again. The child she helps and the mystery she solves are all too believable examples of cruelty to the non-hearing and non-white people. Sometimes Mary's thoughtful and sensitive interactions with Native, Black and women characters in the book feel a little too modern, but there are always people who reject prejudice, and she is a believable example, as she considers the world through a lens of how she's been treated. edited to add -- author commented that the narrative structure is deliberate, which in my mind takes this story to a whole new level. Advanced Reader's Copy provided by Edelweiss.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    If you loved Show Me a Sign, then you’ll be delighted to know that Mary Lambert is back in Set Me Free. This time, Mary is using her passion & knowledge to help a young deaf girl who does not know sign language overcome isolation & so much more. Powerful #mglit!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    Really interesting, but I missed reading Show Me a Sign first. I want to read that book now, but the sequel gave everything away. Librarian fail!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    I wanted to like this sequel to Show Me a Sign so much, I couldn't wait to get the ARC. But, set a few years after the first book, Mary is now 14 and out of school, but still dreams of becoming a teacher. When an opportunity presents itself teaching a rather feral 8 year old in Boston, Mary overcomes her anxiety to be in that city again after what she experiences there before, and accepts the job. The girl is locked in the attic in the home of wealthy Bostonians who are away, but Mary is prevent I wanted to like this sequel to Show Me a Sign so much, I couldn't wait to get the ARC. But, set a few years after the first book, Mary is now 14 and out of school, but still dreams of becoming a teacher. When an opportunity presents itself teaching a rather feral 8 year old in Boston, Mary overcomes her anxiety to be in that city again after what she experiences there before, and accepts the job. The girl is locked in the attic in the home of wealthy Bostonians who are away, but Mary is prevented from doing much for her by a cruel, sadistic butler who saw deaf people as less then hearing people. I was disappointed that this wasn't written in free verse like the first book, because I felt the prose didn't do Mary justice. She came across as arrogant and self-righteous where I think she was meant to be caring and concerned. I would definitely recommend reading this sequel, especially if you read the first book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I knew that Martha's Vineyard had a large Deaf population and that they'd created their own version of sign language, so reading a book set in that location and with that population was interesting to me. Having said that... the era is the early 1800s, and yet Mary could be a modern child. Something about that felt very off. The child she sets out to help is clearly a victim of abuse and is still being kept in an abusive situation, aided by the staff of the Vale (it's never completely clear why I knew that Martha's Vineyard had a large Deaf population and that they'd created their own version of sign language, so reading a book set in that location and with that population was interesting to me. Having said that... the era is the early 1800s, and yet Mary could be a modern child. Something about that felt very off. The child she sets out to help is clearly a victim of abuse and is still being kept in an abusive situation, aided by the staff of the Vale (it's never completely clear why the owners of the Vale are allowing all this to go on, but they're absent so that's possibly why). No spoilers, except to say that the expressions of racism and bigotry are the among the realist I've seen in a book for this age group. eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laiba

    this sounds so beautiful!!! i need it now.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cathie

    upper elementary, middle grades first-person POV sequel to Show Me a Sign historical own voices Mary Lambert (now 14) lives on the island of Martha's Vineyard off Cape Cod in 1805. She is deaf, like her father, although her mother and brother are hearing. In fact, almost 20% of the islanders are deaf so everyone signs, hearing or not. Mary has recovered from her kidnapping ordeal of a few years ago, and still wants to become a teacher. She receives a letter from Nora, who was sympathetic and helped he upper elementary, middle grades first-person POV sequel to Show Me a Sign historical own voices Mary Lambert (now 14) lives on the island of Martha's Vineyard off Cape Cod in 1805. She is deaf, like her father, although her mother and brother are hearing. In fact, almost 20% of the islanders are deaf so everyone signs, hearing or not. Mary has recovered from her kidnapping ordeal of a few years ago, and still wants to become a teacher. She receives a letter from Nora, who was sympathetic and helped her during her ordeal. Nora is working at a large estate not far from Quincy, where Mary's friend Nancy is staying with her uncle and studying piano. Nora says there is a young girl being kept in the attic who seems to be feral, but Nora wonders if she might be deaf and if Mary could help. Mary is determined to help if she can and sets off. She meets resistance from the butler at the estate but manages to make contact with the child. She becomes concerned that the girl has been harmed and is in danger, so she enlists Nancy and her uncle to help rescue the child. Mary is still determined, feisty, and caring, and she does return the girl to her rightful family. There are notes at the end about sign language, hereditary deafness, deaf education, and the Wampanoag tribe.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    While I didn't love this as much as Show Me A Sign, I still really enjoyed it. It was surprising how much more there was in this book versus the first one. This wasn't simply a story about two deaf young women. Deafness and other disabilities were the prominent topic, but there was so much talk of women's rights, racism toward blacks and indigenous people, patriotism, etc. My favorite part of reading historical fiction is that you can learn as you enjoy. That is what this books did, I learned th While I didn't love this as much as Show Me A Sign, I still really enjoyed it. It was surprising how much more there was in this book versus the first one. This wasn't simply a story about two deaf young women. Deafness and other disabilities were the prominent topic, but there was so much talk of women's rights, racism toward blacks and indigenous people, patriotism, etc. My favorite part of reading historical fiction is that you can learn as you enjoy. That is what this books did, I learned things about various people and cultures but I also enjoyed seeing how Mary has grown and hearing more of her life. I also really like that the author doesn't shy away from truths of the time period. Especially when writing for youths, some people tend to want to gloss over some of the details. Even characters in the book kept trying to shield Mary, but she knew that she could handle the truth and she needed to know it in order to help.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Klissia

    Não achei essa sequel tão interessante e atraente como o primeiro livro, esperava mais desenvolvimento da trama,relacionamento entre personagens, e o uso da linguagem de sinais como instrumento social e aproximação entre Mary e Ladybird. Porém ainda bom, já que um livro voltado pro leitor infanto juvenil. Percebi nuances de "Jane Eyre " na estória, um passarinho preso e silenciado pronto pra voar. Não achei essa sequel tão interessante e atraente como o primeiro livro, esperava mais desenvolvimento da trama,relacionamento entre personagens, e o uso da linguagem de sinais como instrumento social e aproximação entre Mary e Ladybird. Porém ainda bom, já que um livro voltado pro leitor infanto juvenil. Percebi nuances de "Jane Eyre " na estória, um passarinho preso e silenciado pronto pra voar.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Very good sequel but quite heavy handed.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Great Books

    Reviewer #15

  22. 5 out of 5

    Damian

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

  24. 5 out of 5

    MayorEmma

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Thom

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lira

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ann

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  30. 4 out of 5

    Clay

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