CUTTING LOOSE is a Big book. Lotsa pages and two story strands – one in 1895 and one leading from 1826 to 1895 when the stories come together.
The 1895 strand concerns the efforts of Jackie, a twenty year-old American girl, to avenge the murder of her best friend. It’s set primarily in London – among music hall performers and visiting Americans who play baseball.
The other strand starts in 1826 when Jackie’s grandmother, Claudette, is ten. In rural Indiana she and her brothers are auctioned because their parents died in a fire and there are no relatives to take them in. Back then “pauper auctions” were a way for communities to solve the problem of the poor. Sound like slavery? It sure was. Indiana banned them in 1831. The book follows Claudette to Indianapolis in the 1840s and on to New York City where Jackie’s father, Matthew is born. Matthew becomes one of the first ever professional baseball players. Did I mention that Jackie played baseball and got to the majors?
“There’s a lot of good stuff in this,” wrote Michael Z. Lewin while sitting in his office. It was reviewed well elsewhere too. It was published by Holt as a Young Adult novel – because Jackie is a young adult and… copes with a lot. I didn’t write it with young adults in mind, just adults. Maybe it says something about my mind…