Read Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave by Ann Rinaldi Online


When I was four and my daddy left, I cried, but I understood. He became part of the Gone. The only life Oney Judge has ever known is servitude. As part of the staff of George and Martha Washington, she isn't referred to as a slave. She is a servant -- and a house servant at that, a position of influence and respect on the plantation of Mount Vernon. When she rises to theWhen I was four and my daddy left, I cried, but I understood. He became part of the Gone. The only life Oney Judge has ever known is servitude. As part of the staff of George and Martha Washington, she isn't referred to as a slave. She is a servant -- and a house servant at that, a position of influence and respect on the plantation of Mount Vernon. When she rises to the position of personal servant to Martha Washington, her status among the household staff -- black and white -- is second to none. She is Lady Washington's closest confidante and, for all intents and purposes, a member of the family -- or so she thinks. Slowly, Oney's perception of her life with the Washingtons begins to crack as she realizes the truth: No matter how close she becomes with Lady Washington, no matter what secrets they share, she will never be a member of the family. And regardless of what they call it, it's still slavery and she's still a slave. Oney must make a choice: Does she stay where she is, comfortable, with this family that has loved her and nourished her and owned her since the day she was born? Or does she take liberty -- her life -- into her own hands and, like her father, become one of the Gone? Told with immense power and compassion, Taking Liberty is the extraordinary true story of one young woman's struggle to take what is rightfully hers....

Title : Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780689851872
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Taking Liberty: The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave Reviews

  • Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛
    2018-12-31 17:54

    -POTENTIAL SPOILERS- Oh, Ann Rinaldi. I've read almost all of your books and the most I can say is that they're a definite acquired taste. She has a knack for randomly switching the speed of her pacing-sometimes the story is paced extremely slowly, and other times it's really fast. She doesn't give much time for her characters to develop personalities, even though almost all of her main characters are real historical characters, such as here. And she shows her characters from very early childhood to early adulthood usually, yet never actually says what age they are until later on. And this book was no exception. However, I liked it. It shed some light on an unknown historical figure, and while I was a bit mad with how abruptly it ended, I liked watching the main character gradually become more independent and eventually run away, taking her own liberty as the title says. I know some people would have a problem with a white author depicting slavery, and yes, the book is written in the accent the main characters would've had, but I thought she did a good job portraying her. But then again, I'm white, so maybe there's something here I'm missing. Overall, I liked this book, despite its fast pace at times. It's a time period I don't often go to, but when I do, I always find myself very pleasantly surprised.

  • Cynthia Egbert
    2019-01-06 13:02

    I have had Ann Rinaldi books recommended to me in the past but this is my first go with this author. I am impressed. I always appreciate when a writer of historical fiction outlines for me what in the book is real and where they took license to help the storyline. She also explains why she took said license. The story drew me in. I love Mount Vernon so much and I could picture all of the places she was referencing in the story. This is an important voice, the story of a well-treated house slave, personal servant to Mrs. Washington who still took that dangerous chance when freedom was within reach. I loved hearing some portion of her voice. A few special passages:"When you learn about someone, hear their stories, you tote them around. They flow in your blood and your dreams. They become a part of you.""And I thought, 'I know now why God made us black. So when we run, we can't be seen'.""My heart went out to General Washington and I thought 'I don't suppose it matters if you're Negro or white. If your mama doesn't love you, you've got no color. You've got nothing.""Reading was like learning that I could breathe underwater, the same water I'd lived in all my life. There was a power to it that made me tremble. I could do this! Just like white people! The color of my skin did not stop me! And it was not reading recipes, either. It was strings of words that added up and made sense! I felt smarter, quicker, and smug. Oh, so smug! No wonder white people walked around with their noses in the air all the time, acting superior. It was reading that did it. Not being white. No wonder they kept us from doing it. I walked around in a daze, for months, the secret of my reading burning inside me."

  • Maura
    2019-01-03 17:03

    I am obsessed with this book! Very rarely do books give me such mixed feelings towards the characters. Usually I'm just 'oh, I hate you. oh, i love you.' but I didn't know how I felt about any of these people. Is Martha evil for keeping slaves or is she amazing because of how kind she is to them? This really made me think about the commonness of slavery back in the 1700's and when Oney was scared, I was scared. If she was contempt, I was contempt. Oney is a blank slate that anyone can really project themselves on. Please go read it, just do it!

  • Dawn
    2019-01-16 14:05

    Historically well researched, emotionally well told. Interesting to see the struggle between comfort and slavery or struggle and liberty. It is never as clear cut an issue as some would suggest.

  • Nancy Shaffer
    2018-12-25 15:50

    Young adult book read for the benefit of grandkids. Very good historical fiction.

  • Julia
    2019-01-17 18:04

    The Review of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave Have you ever heard of a slave that was treated well and had nice clothes almost like a rich white person? In the story Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave by Ann Rinaldi Oney gets to experience this wonderful life of luxury. The story first takes place with Oney Judge as a young slave with her mother going to Washington's Manor. Oney and her mother work as servants inside the house; they do household chores, help Lady Washington and run errands to the market. However, one day Lady Washington appoints Oney as her personal slave/servant. Thus, Oney begins learning about high class whites by getting nicer clothes, better food and less punishment. While Oney lives the life of the "high class", her mother Betty Judge gets jealous of her and begins doing irrational things like saying Oney is not her daughter and by ignoring her. When Oney gets older, she begins realizing that she will always stay a slave and will never be seen as an equal to white people. On the whole Oney has a choice either to stay a slave and never be free for the rest of her life or escape to Canada when she visits to New York with Ms. Washington. Consequently, Oney has a tough decision whether stay a slave or run to be free. This story has many great things about it, but there are some minor details that could have been fixed. The parts I like was how the story gives a new perspective to slaves by showing that some slaves had a less severe life than those slaves working hard in the fields and getting punished a lot. Another part I like was how it gave many historic facts and interesting things about George Washington and how he treated his slaves. For example, George Washington never called his slaves "slaves"; instead, he called them servants. Also, I loved Oney and how she was presented as a character in the story. What I love about Oney is she is very ingenuous, curious and very bright. This is reveled in the text when Oney says, " ...what you put in the book, ma'am, is two dozen. I counted twenty-eight lambs replied Oney to Ms. Washington" (51). Out of the whole book the only thing I did not like was how the book had too many unnecessary details. It does not go straight to the point and moves from story to story as when Oney talks with Ms. Washington about Mr. Washington but then jumps to Oneys' mother being upset about a white person. Otherwise, I give this book a high praise. I would recommend this book to teachers because it shows a great deal of facts written into one storyline. Furthermore, I would recommend this book to people who love learning about slavery because it shows a different perspective on how the slaves lived. Another group I would recommend the book to are people who are interested in George Washington and how he treated the slaves. However, I would not recommend this to little kids because there are some curse words in the story and some horrifying parts. Overall this book is very good and I suggest readers to read this because it paints a picture of the 1800's that we normally do not see.

  • Dominique
    2019-01-22 15:05

    I finished this book today, just a day before it's due back to the library! The last Ann Rinaldi book I read was The Fifth of March A Story of the Boston Massacre, and while it was an enjoyable read, it disappointed me to learn that half of the stuff in the novel was made up through Laura's review. I was afraid that the it would be the same case for this, but luckily, the author explains herself what was true and made up at the very end, and it's not a lot.It was interesting to learn how Oney was the Washingtons' favored slave, to the point she considered them family. For her actual parents, well, it's a shame that her father had to become "one of the Gone," while her strict mother constantly berates her.Other things I learned about George Washington was that he also had a mother who berated him and was good friends with Marquis de Lafayette who was like a son to him. He's always referred to as "the general."As the beginning of the novel suggests, Oney tells her tale of working for the Washingtons from age 4 to 20. This was a very interesting read, and I really liked all the other characters who worked for them. I also like how Oney ends up making her decision to become a runaway, because I felt like I learned something about Lady Washington's treatment of her, too.I'd recommend this to be read in English classes at school!

  • Jennifer Heise
    2019-01-17 14:04

    I'm reserving that last star because, well, I don't know how African-Americans would view this book by a white author about a black slave girl. However, I enjoyed it, especially because it portrayed how even though a black slave 'servant' might sometimes be allowed relative (servant-style*) luxury due to close association with someone in the owning family, being a slave still grated. I thought Rinaldi did a good job showing how leaving slavery meant leaving behind your home, family, and your past, and how hard leaving forever could be, despite the burden of being a slave and not being able to call your life your own. Rinaldi made Oney an engaging character, and incorporated a lot of historical detail about both life on the Washington estates and the Washington lifestyle. Conflicted emotions about the Washingtons among their slaves seemed realistic to me. I had a harder time with the character of Oney's mother, especially as we don't have a historical background for her, and she's a very divided character. But overall, I was impressed by this book*I say servant-style because in the colonial period, it wasn't unusual for any servants to be working 12-16 hours a day for small pay and room and board, so working long hours in a comparative cushy job and being given nice clothes and privileges would be relative luxury for a free servant. However, a free servant could leave if their job didn't suit, and had rights under the law, unlike a slave servant!

  • Kayna Olsen
    2019-01-05 14:57

    Oney Judge grew up serving the Washington's at Mt. Vernon. As a half black half white servant, Oney is privileged to serve inside the house and eventually is trained to be Martha Washington's personal servant. She is treated very well! All of the Washington's servant are well treated and live a good life. Despite this it seems everywhere Oney goes someone wants her to runaway. This is the true story of a girl struggling with her identity as a servant who is treated like a daughter but is still owned property. Ann Rinaldi is an amazing historical fiction novelist! I love her books and this may be one of my favorites that I have read. It was neat to hear about what was happening to Oney while notable historical events were taking place. And just a side note, my ancestor Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence was talked about as well, so that made me enjoy it even more!Rinaldi is skilled at adding story line and plot to historical happenings and findings. It is also really beneficial that she includes some of her research at the conclusion of the story, that way you learn the true events of history and find where her inspiration for the particular story comes from!

  • Jeni Enjaian
    2019-01-02 16:51

    This book was a welcome change after several slightly weird Donna Jo Napoli books. That being said, on its own, this is a pretty decent book. My overall opinion is that it is average, thus the three star review. (I really wish we could give half star ratings. There's a big difference, to me at least, between a truly average book like this one and a book that is slightly better than average but not deserving of a four star rating. Moving on...)Here are some of the things that off-set the decent, well put together narrative, and thus influenced me towards giving the book a mediocre review. First, Oney's voice did not really mature throughout the book even though her character aged from approximately 4 years old to approximately 20 years old. This is also an issue for me. Oney's approximate age is never given so the lack of maturity in the voice leads to confusion about a basic fact about the main character. Second, Rinaldi's approach to the events of the Revolutionary War and Early National Era felt cliché. Even though Oney Judge was a real person, the pampered, high-yellow, naive house slave has been done too much. That being said, it's a decent book and I while I wouldn't recommend it, I wouldn't recommend against it.

  • Sarah Crawford
    2019-01-04 14:57

    This is another of Ann Rinaldi's really good historical novels. This one is based on the life of Oney Judge, a half-white slave girl living on the Mount Vernon estate of George Washington. The book starts with her at the age of three and goes on to tell how she ended up working in the house, learning how to sew and do other things, and how she eventually become Martha Washington's personal slave.Oney had a much better life working in the house than did the slaves who had to work on the outside. The story covers the ending of the Revolutionary War and both of George Washington's term as President of the new country.Oney is content with her life, but gradually talks to other slaves and learns of slaves running off and groups that help slaves escape from their masters. Although her life at Mount Vernon is relatively comfortable, she is still a slave and will always remain one, so she has to decide if she will prefer that life, or try to run away and live what with little doubt will be a harsher type of life.The characters are well done, although Oney's mother comes across as little short of extremely nasty and quite unsympathetic.

  • Debbie Phillips
    2019-01-04 12:58

    This book is excellent. I read it aloud to my son Christopher for school. It gives you a good overview of George Washington and Mt. Vernon as well as the trials of slavery and the problem Washington had with wanting to free them yet having to please both the North and the South to keep the newly founded country together. It also gives you a view of what it was like to be a slave, even to a generous and kind family like the Washington's. This is definitely historical fiction as the characters are true living people and the events of the book really took place. The specific daily events are typical of things that would have happened and things that were taken from the diaries of General Washington. The dialogue and some of the characters were made up.This book would be good for everyone with children grade 4th and up for read aloud, especially for homeschoolers. If reading on their own then probably a grade or 2 above that.

  • VJ
    2019-01-13 19:20

    Oney Judge existed! I misunderstood this when I started the book. There is much to be said for starting from what Western readers think of as the back of the book. If I had started there, with the Author's Note, I would not have been so surprised to discover Oney really lived, as did Washington's personal attendant and slave, Billie Lee. Not wanting to give anything away in this informative historical novel, I will say that from the beginning of the story, we are told, by Oney herself, that she ran away. She ran away from comfort, security of a sort, light duty, no responsibilities beyond those assigned to her by her masters. She left all she had ever known, her family, friends, her cozy room with a fireplace, her better quality clothing, left it all for freedom. Rinaldi continues to hold my attention during this Black History Month!

  • Monique Hernandez
    2018-12-25 11:55

    Taking Liberty was one of my absolute favorite books. This book was written in the time of slaves that were like Oney Judge, tricked into thinking that they were seen as equal to the whites. Ann Rinaldi does an amazing job of really explaining Oney's heart and opinions about her situation after all she was Mrs.Washington's right hand. Oney really felt apart of the family I really drew close to her character. But when she discovers that she doesn't have liberty she thought she did she finds an opportunity and takes it while she can. Ann Rinaldi really drew the characters close to the readers which is one of the main reasons I love this book and why I believe other people should read it too.

  • Peggy
    2018-12-27 18:16

    Ann Rinaldi has turned out to be one of my favorite authors. She takes a specific time in history and develops a story from that time that is based on historical research. Her approach is to revolve the story around someone who would be considered a minor character in that time period, thus giving us a different perspective on that historical period. This particular book is the story of Oney Judge, a slave of George Washington's, who was given great privileges and status in Washington's house. She must decide between maintaining that life of ease (comparatively speaking for her status and the time period) or striking out for freedom. This made me appreciate my own freedom and the many things that I take for granted.

  • Rachel
    2018-12-25 15:19

    I found this in The Valley of the Forge visitor center and picked it up since I do like reading YA books. I also wanted a glimpse of life in Revolutionary Times, so this is a good glimpse of it. Other than a more simplistic style of writing, I did find this to be a good read. It is interesting to read of Oney Judge. I am slightly disappointed because it really didn't cover the deeper questions I had about slavery and it was not very detailed like other YA books. However, if one was starting out to read historical fiction, and is a younger child, this book would definitely spark the imagination and the desire to learn more.

  • Susan
    2019-01-19 12:20

    This historical novel is based on Oney, a Mt. Vernon house slave to the George Washington family. She was trained to work in the big house and caught the eye of Martha Washington. As she grew up, she finally found that her big house "family" wasn't quite family. She also learned why her mother wanted her to become one of the "gone". As she was torn between the "family" and her desire for liberty, she finds she has a serious decision to make. Excellent novel for the time period that shows all sides of slavery. Highly recommend for upper elementary and YAs.

  • Jessica
    2018-12-31 16:05

    If you dislike history but hate researching, this book serves as a delightful exposition on the important players. This book is told from first person point of view and the narrator is the slave of former First Lady Martha Washington. She casually mentions important events, key names and details. Ann Rinaldi has created a tale that is insightful, heartwarming and gut wrenching. Highly recommended for fans and those of the American Revolution and black history. I borrowed this book from my job. I finished it in a few hours.

  • Tiffany Smith
    2018-12-26 13:02

    This is a story of historical events that are set on the plantation of George Washington. Through the eyes of a house slave, the reader sees slavery in a different light. The reader see slavery through the eyes of a servant that is presumably treated like "family". Oney asks, "Why would I want to be free?" As the personal maid to Lady Washington, she is given pretty dresses, eats food from the kitchen and is given a room in the house with a fireplace. Yet, Oney comes to understand that she is property and can be given away as such.

  • Jill
    2018-12-25 17:03

    I loved this book. I loved the perspective. I hope I get to meet this woman in heaven. A wonderful story of dedication to what she believes in - first, the people she grew to consider her family, and second, to her own self-worth. I'm guessing that she and George and Martha Washington are good friends now; they have so much in common - from the time spent in the same household for so many years, as well as intellectually and in so many shared character traits.

  • LuAnn
    2019-01-20 16:05

    Rinaldi's books have a great immediacy to them, making me feel I have lived in Oney's shoes as she serves as a slave in the house of Martha and George Washington and deliberates the costs and benefits of her comfortable slavery and the lure of freedom. Compelling, historical, suspenseful with well-drawn characters. Presents issues beyond the Revolution and nation building of early America, unlike much historical fiction about that era.

  • Lori
    2018-12-28 12:52

    Interesting to learn more about the life of 'priveleged' servant, Oney Judge, to Martha Washington. Even through good times, life as a slave was always changing and the future didn't always hold the same promise. I still enjoy the bibliographies Rinaldi provides as well as the breakdown of 'proven' details and the breakdown of which characters and details she fabricated to facilitate the story.

  • Becky
    2019-01-11 20:11

    I really enjoyed this book about a favored slave growing up in George Washington's household. She grows up gradually realizing the importance of freedom, learning first from her own mother. It also confirms my high opinion of Pres. Washington. The way a man treats those closest to him reveals his real character. The yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia was especially interesting to me. My favorite of Ann Rinaldi's book so far.

  • Karen Hogan
    2019-01-08 18:17

    YA novel about Oney Judge, favored slave of Martha Washington. I enjoyed reading about Mount Vernon, one of my favorite places to visit in Virginia. Reading about George Washington as a slave owner was an eye-opener. So many of our founding fathers, like Washington and Jefferson were hypocrites. They believed in liberty, but not for all. Enjoyed this book. Would read more by this auther: Ann Rinaldi

  • Melissa
    2018-12-24 19:54

    aking Liberty is the story of Oney Judge, one of George Washington’s real slaves, and how she took the freedom that was rightfully hers. Between luxury and comfort that no other slave had, Oney was satisfied with her life. Yet when her mother urges her to take liberty and never again return to Mount Vernon, Oney starts to think. With the help of a freed woman, Oney makes plans to run-before it’s too late.

  • jacky
    2019-01-12 18:05

    This one was okay. I felt like the first half of the book was slow. The conflict didn't seem to build. I also didn't connect with the character or find her situation that unique, unlike some of the other books I've read by Rinaldi. If you were really interested in the Washingtons, though, this would be a great selection.

  • Audrey Henning
    2019-01-04 12:55

    I absolutely ADORED this book. Ann Rinaldi is a phenomenal young adult historical fiction writer. There was so much detail and description that just completely draws you into this story. I felt like I could relate a lot to the main character Oney. I was actually surprised by the way the book ended. I will definitely by reading this again at some point.

  • Kidsbookworm
    2019-01-04 14:02

    I read every Ann Rinaldi book I find. I enjoyed this one, but not as much as some of her others; that being said, it's still a 4 star read. Rinaldi did a great job fleshing out Oney Judge, a personal slave/servant to Martha Washington. It will be interesting to see if my sensitive child will enjoy this book enough to finish it -

  • Cheryl
    2019-01-02 14:58

    This book was in the teen section of my library, but I'd readily recommend it to readers of any age. The story is fiction, but based on fact--and tells of Oney Judge, who served in George Washington's home from childhood until she made a break for freedom. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well written and never dull. Four stars.

  • Audrey
    2019-01-06 12:09

    From the little I've read about Oney Judge, this work seems oddly sympathetic to the Washingtons, and fairly inaccurate, even for historical fiction. I was most bothered by the Author's Note, where Rinaldi spends much more focus on George Washington's life than Oney Judge's and doesn't include more of the source material for her depiction of Judge as wholly ambivalent about her status as a slave.