Fascinating Historic Teen Fiction

The Other Side of Freedom

The Other Side of FreedomThe Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney

In case you’re not familiar with Cynthia T. Toney, this very talented writer is the author of the award-winning Bird Face series of books – 8 Notes to a Nobody, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, 6 Dates to Disaster, and 3 Things to Forget. I have read them all and thoroughly enjoy her signature style of creating intriguing stories full of unique topics with interesting characters that readers care about. These books are like enjoying a beautiful spring day, under the shade of your favorite tree, with a glass of cold lemonade – in other words, they fill you with joy.

I knew of Toney’s flawless ability to write from a modern teenage girl’s perspective, so was curious to read this book which is set in the 1920s and told from the point of view of a middle school age boy – Salvatore. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. She effortlessly delved into the mind of a young boy who lived in Louisiana during the tumultuous Prohibition years, weaving together a fascinating tale of hardship, corruption and the importance of family and faith. This intriguing, coming of age story focuses on the difficult choices and decisions one Italian immigrant family must face while desperately trying to keep their family together.

I didn’t know much about this interesting time in our history when Italian/Sicilian gangsters terrorized American communities but was fascinated by this story and how these crime sprees affected law-abiding families of Italian descent. Besides being a captivating story, this book provides plenty of discussion topics including the repercussions that can arise when trying to do what is right, as well as the issues of prohibition, segregation, and immigration. This novel has won numerous awards. Bravo to Cynthia T. Toney for creating yet another wonderful, thought-provoking teen novel.


In a southern U.S. farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives?
Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

Author: Leslea Wahl

Leslea Wahl is an award-winning author of Catholic teen adventurous mysteries. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her family. Leslea believes one way to encourage teens in their faith is through positive messages and Catholic values, embedded in great stories. She is excited to share her reviews of some incredible Catholic books, all of which have received the Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval. Find her online at LesleaWahl.com