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Margaret Wilkerson Sexton Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

A Kind of Freedom (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton is American author famously known for her debut novel A Kind of Freedom published in 2017. She was born and spent her childhood in New Orleans. Subsequently, she attended Dartmouth College where she majored in creative writing and later joined UC Berkeley where she majored in law. Margaret has been a recipient of the Lombard fellowship; she has also worked for a civil rights organization based in the Dominican Republic for a period of one year. Some of Margaret writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize while some of her stories have been published in Limestone Journal, Grey Sparrow Journal, and Broad Magazine. Margaret is a resident of Bay Area, California.

Margaret first writing was a poem that she wrote back in 4th grade at a Catholic school that she attended. She read the poem to her father who reacted to it like it was an award-winning work. This marked the start of Margaret’s interest in writing. According to an interview, Margaret admitted that her writing to have been influenced by the social and historical insights of Edward P. Jones and Toni Morrison and also the complex character development of Elizabeth Strout; the lyricism of Jamaica Kincaid and Edwidge Danticat have also been incorporated in Margaret’s work.

Margaret worked as a lawyer for a few years before she quit the profession. According to an interview (at massreview.org), she admitted having left her work not because she hated the job but because she did not like the specific environment that she was in.

Margaret revealed that her greatest inspiration to writing A Kind of Freedom (2017) her cousin sparked her debut novel. Her cousin a woman of African American heritage but who has extremely fair skin. Since childhood, Margaret was addicted to colorism to the point that she assumed that since her cousin had a lighter complexion, that her life was better and perfect. It was not until a few years had passed that her cousin revealed to her that she hated her skin color and that her blackness was being challenged as well. She revealed to her that she also hoped that her children would have a darker skin tone so that they would not undergo what she had been through. It was hard for Margaret to acknowledge that anyone would challenge a color that she had once thought made life more comfortable.

According to Margaret New Orleans profoundly influenced her debut novel. Having lived there even though she moved when she was 12 years, she greatly admires the how New Orleans people talk to each other, the way they look, their dance and their food as well. New Orleans is one of the culturally riches places in the whole world but also a place of Margaret formative years.

Margaret also admits that her inspiration writing also comes from listening to Lauryn Hill, particularly her first album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The album manifests the creative skill of a person who is coming out and who is still innocent and raw but who is opinionated and famous.

A Kind of Freedom

A Kind of Freedom is the debut novel by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton. It is a novel that touches on the theme of the racial divide in America. Social scientists, historians, and armchair critics from all the parts of the country have held fractious debates either condemning or defending the racial divide that the nation faces. These attacks often overlook the very human experience they claim to understand, reducing to parody full and intertwined lives.

In her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom; Margaret cuts through this cloud to shine some resolute but compassionate light on three generations of a black family based in New Orleans who try to make the best choices they can in a world that is defined at every turn by peril, constraint, and disappointment.

For a starting author to take up such a charged material is daring, the success in lending free standing life to her characters without bearing an inch of sentimentality.

In her first novel, Margaret pursues family history narrated in three alternating plotlines with each echoing each other along the way. The book opens up in 1944 and introduces a character named Evelyn, the daughter of a famous family, (her mother being Creole and her father is a black doctor, a well-respected man in the society). The story also introduces Renard, a young man from a poor neighborhood who works at a local restaurant aspiring to study medicine. Everlyn and Renard are two characters in love- and through their courtship, the readers can get a glimpse of the strictures of a class and a society that distorts desire and suffocates ambition.

Four decades later, we are introduced to Evelyn’s daughter Jackie, a struggling single mother in the 1980’s New Orleans. She is a woman in love with her child’s father, but at the same time, she is afraid that he will succumb to his drug addiction. Eventually, we finally get to know of Jackie’s son T.C. in 2010. He is a young man at a turning point in his life, and through the perspective of T.C., the author portrays the post-Katrina New Orleans where the smell of mold still rules and where opportunities for fast cash are increasing, increasing the chances of getting arrested or shot.

A Kind of Freedom features a vivid depiction of the local language; it is a book about consequences and uncertainty, which are mainly felt by three lead characters. It is not narrated in chronological order, but the author jumps back and forth alternating between Jackie, Evelyn and T.C. the narrative choice injects a sense of strong fatalism into the story. The characters often find themselves making poor decisions, but there is no room for poor decisions in a world ruled by racial discrimination. A higher percentage of the white population use drugs than the Black populations, yet the Black people are imprisoned at insanely increasing rates. The criminal justice system for the white and black significantly varies, where the whites are often offered diversion and therapy where the blacks are sent to prison.

Despite all the tragedy that befalls these characters, A Kind of Freedom succeeds in showcasing to the world that there is still hope for a brighter future ahead.

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