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An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley

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On the night of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, his frantic wife, Mary, calls for her best friend and confidante, Elizabeth Keckley, but the woman is mistakenly kept from her side by guards who were unaware of Mary Todd Lincoln's close friendship with the black seamstress. How did these two women--one who grew up in a wealthy Southern home and became the wife of On the night of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, his frantic wife, Mary, calls for her best friend and confidante, Elizabeth Keckley, but the woman is mistakenly kept from her side by guards who were unaware of Mary Todd Lincoln's close friendship with the black seamstress. How did these two women--one who grew up in a wealthy Southern home and became the wife of the president of the United States, the other who was born a slave and eventually purchased her own freedom--come to be such close companions?      With vivid detail and emotional power, Ann Rinaldi delves into the childhoods of these two fascinating women who became devoted friends and confidantes amid the turbulent times of the Lincoln administration.


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On the night of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, his frantic wife, Mary, calls for her best friend and confidante, Elizabeth Keckley, but the woman is mistakenly kept from her side by guards who were unaware of Mary Todd Lincoln's close friendship with the black seamstress. How did these two women--one who grew up in a wealthy Southern home and became the wife of On the night of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, his frantic wife, Mary, calls for her best friend and confidante, Elizabeth Keckley, but the woman is mistakenly kept from her side by guards who were unaware of Mary Todd Lincoln's close friendship with the black seamstress. How did these two women--one who grew up in a wealthy Southern home and became the wife of the president of the United States, the other who was born a slave and eventually purchased her own freedom--come to be such close companions?      With vivid detail and emotional power, Ann Rinaldi delves into the childhoods of these two fascinating women who became devoted friends and confidantes amid the turbulent times of the Lincoln administration.

30 review for An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley

  1. 4 out of 5

    Max M

    I pride myself with the fact that I am such a history scholar, but as intelligent as I am I had never heard of Elizabeth Keckley or her relationship with First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. The book is separated into two parts, and both parts describe the childhoods of these two women, and the story line is sublime. Ann Rinaldi has truly created a masterpiece, yet again. This book will have you hooked from start to finish. And so it is with a very high regard for Rinaldi's work that I highly recommend I pride myself with the fact that I am such a history scholar, but as intelligent as I am I had never heard of Elizabeth Keckley or her relationship with First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. The book is separated into two parts, and both parts describe the childhoods of these two women, and the story line is sublime. Ann Rinaldi has truly created a masterpiece, yet again. This book will have you hooked from start to finish. And so it is with a very high regard for Rinaldi's work that I highly recommend this wonderful piece of literature. In other words READ THE BOOK!!!!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melenia

    It was like reading three different books. While each part was enjoyable, they just didn't come together as a cohesive book. The skip from Elizabeth Keckley's childhood to her life involved in the White House just didn't ring true. It was too far of a jump. I wish there had been more of an in between dialogue to understand how she grew to be who she was. It was like reading three different books. While each part was enjoyable, they just didn't come together as a cohesive book. The skip from Elizabeth Keckley's childhood to her life involved in the White House just didn't ring true. It was too far of a jump. I wish there had been more of an in between dialogue to understand how she grew to be who she was.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    This book was such a disappointment! I have read and enjoyed so many Ann Rinaldi books, but this one was not up to par. For one thing, the organization was completely bizarre. It starts with a third-person prologue about Mary Todd Lincoln on the day her husband is assassinated. Her relationship with Lizzy Keckley is mentioned, but barely (isn't that what the book is supposed to be about?). Next it flashes back, in first person, to Mary Todd's childhood. Then there is a section titled, "What Happ This book was such a disappointment! I have read and enjoyed so many Ann Rinaldi books, but this one was not up to par. For one thing, the organization was completely bizarre. It starts with a third-person prologue about Mary Todd Lincoln on the day her husband is assassinated. Her relationship with Lizzy Keckley is mentioned, but barely (isn't that what the book is supposed to be about?). Next it flashes back, in first person, to Mary Todd's childhood. Then there is a section titled, "What Happened after Mary Todd Met Abraham Lincoln." This section is again written in third person, but more like a nonfiction book than historical fiction. The second half of the book does the same with Lizzy Keckley-- first person childhood followed by nonfiction account of her life. Finally, there is an epilogue, written in the expository style, that explains how the two met and touches on their relationship. All of the switching from one tense and style to another makes the book disjointed and seem like it wasn't properly edited. Why not just continue the two stories to the point where they meet instead of adding awkward bits at the end of each of the main sections? Also, shouldn't the prologue and epilogue be written in the same style as one another? Why is one written as historical fiction and the other as a factual account? There is so much potential in the story of these women, but this book feels like it was written and edited in a rush, with neither done very well.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    This was another incredible work of historical fiction by Ann Rinaldi. I learned some very interesting facts about Mary Todd Lincoln's childhood, that really added to my better understanding of the wife of my favorite American. Rinaldi gives the reader a look at life in the south from two very different perspectives, a young girl of privelige, and a young slave named Elizabeth. Elizabeth had an amazing life, overcoming all kinds of obstacles, to become a friend to the First Lady. A wonderful rea This was another incredible work of historical fiction by Ann Rinaldi. I learned some very interesting facts about Mary Todd Lincoln's childhood, that really added to my better understanding of the wife of my favorite American. Rinaldi gives the reader a look at life in the south from two very different perspectives, a young girl of privelige, and a young slave named Elizabeth. Elizabeth had an amazing life, overcoming all kinds of obstacles, to become a friend to the First Lady. A wonderful read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Brazill-murray

    Loved it - young adult historical fiction. Fun to read and I learned a lot - specifically about mary todd's friendship with Elizabeth keckley. My favorite books are stories like this - they show how precious and rare is the human strength to overcome horrible things. Loved it - young adult historical fiction. Fun to read and I learned a lot - specifically about mary todd's friendship with Elizabeth keckley. My favorite books are stories like this - they show how precious and rare is the human strength to overcome horrible things.

  6. 5 out of 5

    LaSchelle

    A story of two women who became friends, even though they grew up in very different circumstances. Ironically, both suffered many losses in life and that's probably what drew them to each other. Mary Todd was determined from an early age--she even wanted to marry a President. She lost her mother at an early age and her step-mother was not kind. Mary's Mammy Sally and Grandma Parker were able to nurture her. She painted flowers on the fence so that Mammy Sally could help slaves get food and other A story of two women who became friends, even though they grew up in very different circumstances. Ironically, both suffered many losses in life and that's probably what drew them to each other. Mary Todd was determined from an early age--she even wanted to marry a President. She lost her mother at an early age and her step-mother was not kind. Mary's Mammy Sally and Grandma Parker were able to nurture her. She painted flowers on the fence so that Mammy Sally could help slaves get food and other needs met while trying to gain freedom. She was a good negotiator on behalf of her father. Her father was determined to give her a good education. She shopped to make her happy. She was influential in Abraham Lincoln's life. She had to deal with losing many people who were close to her. Elizabeth was the daughter of a slave mother and her mother's master. She was given "special priviledges" that allowed her to work in the master's house, instead of the fields. I ended up liking Elizabeth Keckley a lot. I liked the writing about Elizabeth better than the part about Mary. Favorite quotes from Mary's Life: "It isn't what happens to you in life that matters, it's how you take it." Madame Charlotte, Mary's boarding school teacher when Mary was sent away from her family. (p. 120) Favorite quotes from Elizabeth's Life: "The negroes in the quarters get up at four to the blowing of a conch shell by the head overseer, Big Red. They went to the fields when it was still dark and came home after sundown. Or as they say, 'From can't see to can't see.'" p 140 I've worked a lot of "can't see to can't see." "'Learn your book. And grow up being extra special at something. Then have Massa hire you out and get paid for your services and save some money so you can buy your own freedom.' 'Buy my own freedom?' Never had I heard such a thing. 'Buy yourself' she said. 'How can I do it?' 'First you grow up,' she said. 'And then if'n you still want it bad enough, you'll find a way to do it.'" p 170-171 "But I was grown-up after that. Couldn't they see? I'd grown years that evening. If grown-up meant that you no longer trusted anybody. If grown-up meant that you trusted, even less, the part of you that was white. If grown-up meant knowing how stupid you'd been, thinking you were part of the family. And if grown-up meant you knew you had one person in the world you could believe in, at least. Yourself." (P. 178-179) "I shook my head, no, surprised at how easy hate came. Surprised at how hate gave you back your dignity and made them understand that you were a person." (P 181) "But her parents once had money, and like everyone who'd once had money, she never let you forget it." (p 192)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    "An Unlikely Friendship" is written in a loose journal form by the two women: Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, her cousin. It was interesting and engaging. Read during the coronavirus shelter-in-place, along with three other books the first week, and frankly didn't leave a very strong impression on me, which may have been due to the situation. "An Unlikely Friendship" is written in a loose journal form by the two women: Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, her cousin. It was interesting and engaging. Read during the coronavirus shelter-in-place, along with three other books the first week, and frankly didn't leave a very strong impression on me, which may have been due to the situation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dick

    My wife Shari gave me this book for Christmas 2018. I have more than passing interest in Elizabeth Keckley as she plays an important role in my one- man one-act play on Lincoln’s faith. I had read some stories on Elizabeth Keckley in preparation for writing the script to my play. www.lincolntogo.net Elizabeth Keckley was a remarkable woman. Born a slave - a mulatto – she found a way to learn the dressmaking trade. At one point before the Lincolns arrived in Washington City, she did work for promi My wife Shari gave me this book for Christmas 2018. I have more than passing interest in Elizabeth Keckley as she plays an important role in my one- man one-act play on Lincoln’s faith. I had read some stories on Elizabeth Keckley in preparation for writing the script to my play. www.lincolntogo.net Elizabeth Keckley was a remarkable woman. Born a slave - a mulatto – she found a way to learn the dressmaking trade. At one point before the Lincolns arrived in Washington City, she did work for prominent politicians in that city including Varina Davis (Jefferson Davis’ wife). It was through this skill that Ms. Keckley earned enough money to by her freedom as well as that of her son. Her son promptly enlisted in the army – the civil war still had a long way to go – and was promptly killed in action. So, both she and Mrs. Lincoln lost sons during the course of that war, with Willie dying in the Executive Mansion at age 11 in 1862. Keckley could readily relate to the terrible loss of a child. Keckley was a friend of Mrs. Lincoln – an unlikely friendship to be sure – and remained so until Mrs. Lincoln passed away. It was more than a bit fortunate (in my view part of God's plan) for Mrs. Lincoln that Keckley befriended her as Mrs. Lincoln had few friends in the city as a result of her temper and wild accusations drove others away. Mrs. Lincoln came from a well to do family in Kentucky who owned slaves. It is important to keep this in perspective, for Mrs. Lincoln was opposed to slavery – from the time she was very young. The book covers the life of each of them in separate/parallel lines until their paths crossed and then after, as friends and Mrs. Lincoln’s confidant. It was truly an amazing friendship. I did check out many of the “facts” presented as as dialogue (which of course cannot be confirmed) in the book and it is clear that the author – Ann Rinaldi – did her research. I found no inaccuracies. It is a surprisingly good read. I think it rates 3.5 stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    catherine james

    Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley met in 1861 when Ms. Keckley, "a free black woman who had purchased her own freedom" came to the White House to interview for the position as the First Lady's dressmaker. Despite being her success among Washington D.C.'s elite, "Lizzie" never believed she had a real chance at securing the position. Little did she realize that she and Mrs. Lincoln were about to embark on a friendship that would last a lifetime. AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP is a unique breed of his Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley met in 1861 when Ms. Keckley, "a free black woman who had purchased her own freedom" came to the White House to interview for the position as the First Lady's dressmaker. Despite being her success among Washington D.C.'s elite, "Lizzie" never believed she had a real chance at securing the position. Little did she realize that she and Mrs. Lincoln were about to embark on a friendship that would last a lifetime. AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP is a unique breed of historical fiction in that doesn't follow a traditional linear model of story telling. Author Ann Rinaldy opens by depicting the day of President Lincoln's assassination, giving us the story from both Lizzie and Mary's perspectives throughout. She then moves on to depict each woman's life from early childhood to young adult hood, each followed by non fictional, mini-biographies of their lives up to the point of their initial meeting. Ms. Rinaldy closes the novel with a final section describing the women's' lives and friendship after they left the White House. What makes this novel such a great read is the author's careful attention to historical detail. While it's impossible to be certain of Lizzie and Mary's exact conversations and thoughts, knowing the events described have been verified--not "created" or amalgamated for editorial purposes--gives AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP a level of authenticity sorely lacking in most books in this genre. And while I consider characterizing the relationship between white woman of privilege and a mulatto woman born into slavery during the Antebellum period a generous overstatement, these two women undoubtedly formed a bond that was unique to their time and place in history--a feat always worthy of consideration. Originally posted at TeensReadToo.com.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Wardrip

    Reviewed by Cat for TeensReadToo.com Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley met in 1861 when Ms. Keckley, "a free black woman who had purchased her own freedom," came to the White House to interview for the position as the First Lady's dressmaker. Despite her success among Washington, D.C.'s elite, "Lizzie" never believed she had a real chance at securing the position. Little did she realize that she and Mrs. Lincoln were about to embark on a friendship that would last a lifetime. AN UNLIKELY FR Reviewed by Cat for TeensReadToo.com Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley met in 1861 when Ms. Keckley, "a free black woman who had purchased her own freedom," came to the White House to interview for the position as the First Lady's dressmaker. Despite her success among Washington, D.C.'s elite, "Lizzie" never believed she had a real chance at securing the position. Little did she realize that she and Mrs. Lincoln were about to embark on a friendship that would last a lifetime. AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP is a unique breed of historical fiction in that doesn't follow a traditional linear model of storytelling. Author Ann Rinaldi opens by depicting the day of President Lincoln's assassination, giving us the story from both Lizzie and Mary's perspectives throughout. She then moves on to depict each woman's life from early childhood to young adulthood, each followed by non-fictional, mini-biographies of their lives up to the point of their initial meeting. Ms. Rinaldi closes the novel with a final section describing the womens' lives and friendship after they left the White House. What makes this novel such a great read is the author's careful attention to historical detail. While it's impossible to be certain of Lizzie and Mary's exact conversations and thoughts, knowing the events described have been verified - not "created" or amalgamated for editorial purposes - gives AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP a level of authenticity sorely lacking in most books in this genre. And while I consider characterizing the relationship between a white woman of privilege and a mulatto woman born into slavery during the Antebellum period a generous overstatement, these two women undoubtedly formed a bond that was unique to their time and place in history - a feat always worthy of consideration.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I was excited to see that Sally Field was playing Mrs. Lincoln in the new movie, because I love her and wanted to know more about Mary Todd Lincoln. I had always heard that she was disturbed or crazy and in the movie I felt like she was just grieving and depressed, not insane. I wished the movie had given us more of her and more of Elizabeth as well so a book about both of them instantly appealed to me. As I read the opening section of this book I did not think I would like it. As the two women t I was excited to see that Sally Field was playing Mrs. Lincoln in the new movie, because I love her and wanted to know more about Mary Todd Lincoln. I had always heard that she was disturbed or crazy and in the movie I felt like she was just grieving and depressed, not insane. I wished the movie had given us more of her and more of Elizabeth as well so a book about both of them instantly appealed to me. As I read the opening section of this book I did not think I would like it. As the two women talk they kind of recap their friendship in a conversation with one another and that did not sound natural to me at all. It seemed like a cheap way to fill in the story. I did not love the beginning or ending sections. They were too rushed and too vague and there is actually very little plot about the friendship between the women so I wanted to go down to 3 stars since the book isn't really what it advertises itself to be. However, I loved the two main sections of the book, that recapped the lives of these two women prior to meeting one another. I am a step child, which we consider to be no big deal these days but I related perfectly to some of the situations and feelings that Mary had. And Lizzy! What a life. I have read many stories like hers and always have to remind myself that this really happened because it blows my mind. What I loved is that while Mary's trials caused her to fall apart, Lizzy's trials made her strong. I am not saying either of them are wrong, but I felt like I understood why they needed each other and became friends. After learning about them their friendship did not seem unlikely at all. So while this one may not be quite what you expect it to be by it's title, I fell in love with both women a little bit and closed the book knowing that I will go on to read more about both of them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    My quest to find out more about the relationship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley started with the book Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. I then read Elizabeth Keckley's own account, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. Just for good measure I decided to read An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. This is actually a teen fiction version but it approached the story differently as you spe My quest to find out more about the relationship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley started with the book Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. I then read Elizabeth Keckley's own account, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. Just for good measure I decided to read An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. This is actually a teen fiction version but it approached the story differently as you spend most of the book learning about Mary Todd's and Elizabeth's childhoods. I found this interesting as in the other two books you don't learn much of anything about Mary Todd Lincoln's youth. This book was good. I feel that it rounded out my knowledge of the two women and has actually inspired me to a goal of reading something about all of the first ladies, starting with Martha Washington. In today's world the First Lady gets abundant coverage--the First Family lives in a fishbowl. But I don't know much about the early first ladies and these three books that I have read dealing with Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley have sparked an interest in learning more about the women in the White House.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    I’ll start this off by saying I’m WIDELY fascinated by Elizabeth Keckley. I have the fortune of living within 20 minutes of the Burwell School where she was enslaved, and so I’ve been to a number of the Elizabeth Keckley-related events there at the site, and I’ve done research on my own. Lizzy Keckley is one of my all-time favorite historical figures, and so I regret to say I’m disappointed by this book. As a huge Ann Rinaldi fan, I’ve loved her since I was in Kindergarten and first read My Hear I’ll start this off by saying I’m WIDELY fascinated by Elizabeth Keckley. I have the fortune of living within 20 minutes of the Burwell School where she was enslaved, and so I’ve been to a number of the Elizabeth Keckley-related events there at the site, and I’ve done research on my own. Lizzy Keckley is one of my all-time favorite historical figures, and so I regret to say I’m disappointed by this book. As a huge Ann Rinaldi fan, I’ve loved her since I was in Kindergarten and first read My Heart is on the Ground. This novel, however, doesn’t hold up to her usual standard. I admit to being biased, but Elizabeth Keckley is definitely the most interesting figure in this story, and she’s reduced to a second rate character after Mary Todd. Also, the book implies that it’ll explore the friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Lizzy, but it doesn’t, which is SUPER unfortunate because they share a fascinating history. Even more disappointing, the truth of the end of their friendship is glossed over. I understand that this is a book for children, but it does a disservice to Lizzy and Mary to completely ignore how they ended up to each other. Overall, this novel was a disappointment, and I’m devastated over it. I’m a lifelong fan of Rinaldi and a passionate Elizabeth Keckley historian so to see this novel is just wildly disappointing as it doesn’t give justice to their friendship, let alone Lizzy Keckley, who is a forgotten name in history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. After visiting the Lincoln Presidential Museum, I am intrigued to read this. However, my experience with reading Rinaldi's works thusfar is that they tend to have disappointing/depressing endings. Hopefully this will be more hopeful! Now that I have completed it, I'm pretty sure this is my favorite of the Rinaldi books that I've read. It was fascinating, and well-paced. Once I finally got a chance to really sit down and read it, I found it hard to put down. While both Mary Ann Todd and, more espe After visiting the Lincoln Presidential Museum, I am intrigued to read this. However, my experience with reading Rinaldi's works thusfar is that they tend to have disappointing/depressing endings. Hopefully this will be more hopeful! Now that I have completed it, I'm pretty sure this is my favorite of the Rinaldi books that I've read. It was fascinating, and well-paced. Once I finally got a chance to really sit down and read it, I found it hard to put down. While both Mary Ann Todd and, more especially, Lizzy Keckley had many heartaches in life, it was really inspiring to read about Lizzy Keckley, who I previously knew basically nothing about. The book mainly covers her childhood and young womanhood, but Rinaldi does give a brief account of her later years. That her spirit was not broken by her many years as a slave is an amazing testament to her bravery and tenacity. I was so happy to learn that she was eventually able to buy her own freedom, become a successful businesswoman, and also assist many other freed men and women. Note: this book is classified as Young Adult, but it does contain some scenes of Lizzy being beaten, and also deals with the issue of slave owners forcing female slaves into sexual relationships. Neither are gratuitous, but it may cause younger readers to have a lot of questions.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Crawford

    Subtitled A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. The book is done somewhat different from Ann Rinaldi's normal books. Rather than tell a person's story all the way through, this one is divided into a number of sections. First there's the day of Lincoln's assassination and shortly thereafter, which involves both of the novel's main characters. Then it goes into a section of Mary Todd's upbringing, then a section of what happened to her later. After that, a fourth section goes into El Subtitled A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. The book is done somewhat different from Ann Rinaldi's normal books. Rather than tell a person's story all the way through, this one is divided into a number of sections. First there's the day of Lincoln's assassination and shortly thereafter, which involves both of the novel's main characters. Then it goes into a section of Mary Todd's upbringing, then a section of what happened to her later. After that, a fourth section goes into Elizabeth Keckley's upbringing, and the last section goes into what happened to her later. It's a very interesting book, although it's almost as if it should really have been two separate books about the people individually since there's not a real great deal of actual interaction between the two. It does show that Mary Todd spent way beyond her means, especially during her time in the White House, and that she definitely had issues. The picture painted of her is not flattering at all. Elizabeth Keckley's story is, I think, more interesting than Mary Todd's story, and she seems to be actually the better of the two women, the one a person would rather get to know and to talk to.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carson Gill

    This novel (somewhat) told about the unlikely friendship of Mary Todd Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln's wife) and her seamstress, Elizabeth Keckley. The book started by talking about the assassination of Abe Lincoln. Rinaldi then wrote the account of Mary Todd's childhood and the events that took place in her life. It then led to the account of Elizabeth Keckley's life. The last bit of the book was about how Elizabeth & Mary Todd's friendship came about and the unique traits each possessed that made th This novel (somewhat) told about the unlikely friendship of Mary Todd Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln's wife) and her seamstress, Elizabeth Keckley. The book started by talking about the assassination of Abe Lincoln. Rinaldi then wrote the account of Mary Todd's childhood and the events that took place in her life. It then led to the account of Elizabeth Keckley's life. The last bit of the book was about how Elizabeth & Mary Todd's friendship came about and the unique traits each possessed that made their friendship so special. I did not give this book a high rating because the book started out slow and the ending was tough to get through. The book is entitled "An Unlikely Friendship", but it only discusses their friendship very briefly at the end. I would have liked to have read more about their friendship and time spent together. However, Rinaldi explains in great detail about historical times and the brutality of slavery which was interesting in itself. I think this book could have been a lot better had it been written in a different format.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Basto

    As a true Ann Rinaldi fan, this book was not her best! The awkward breaks in the story of Mary Todd Lincoln and her bi-racial seamstress, Lizzy Keckley made for a jagged reading experience. The opening is the story leading up to Lincoln's assignation told in the third person. Then we have the section with Mary Todd's early life, told in the first person.(This was by far my favorite section of the book, much more indicative of Rinaldi's usual first person narratives.) Then after a time, we head i As a true Ann Rinaldi fan, this book was not her best! The awkward breaks in the story of Mary Todd Lincoln and her bi-racial seamstress, Lizzy Keckley made for a jagged reading experience. The opening is the story leading up to Lincoln's assignation told in the third person. Then we have the section with Mary Todd's early life, told in the first person.(This was by far my favorite section of the book, much more indicative of Rinaldi's usual first person narratives.) Then after a time, we head into Lizzy's story told first person. Then we are back to a third person summary at the end...kind of a Reader's Digest form of how the two met. I think this could have flowed more easily and the narratives could be connected a bit more. I was really put off by the changes in POV, so unlike Rinaldi's writing. I think perhaps she was under a deadline to finish. But the book peaked my interest in Mary Todd Lincoln and this is something Ann Rinaldi does to me every time I read one of her books. I want to learn more!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This is a story about Mrs. Lincoln and how she came to be friends with a freed African-American slave, Elizabeth Keckley. The book begins with the death of Abraham Lincoln and then flashes back to Mrs. Lincoln's childhood up until she arrives in Springfield, IL and is married to Mr. Lincoln. Then the book switches over to Lizzy's story of how she came to be as the child of a slave and her master. Lizzy spends half of her life working for her freedom and eventually is able to buy it and move to W This is a story about Mrs. Lincoln and how she came to be friends with a freed African-American slave, Elizabeth Keckley. The book begins with the death of Abraham Lincoln and then flashes back to Mrs. Lincoln's childhood up until she arrives in Springfield, IL and is married to Mr. Lincoln. Then the book switches over to Lizzy's story of how she came to be as the child of a slave and her master. Lizzy spends half of her life working for her freedom and eventually is able to buy it and move to Washington where she makes dresses for well to do families. I thought this was a cute story. Lizzy's story is definitely a little harder to handle, as is any story of a slave before the Civil War. Mary, too did not have the best life growing up. I'm still not entirely sure if the story is completely true but I think it is based on some research and facts that have been found. Either way, it's a nice way to jump into some history.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maximilian

    I love this book so much. I came accross it when i was looking for something that i normally wouldn't read, thanks to this book i was hooked on Ann Rinaldi historical novels for such a long time. the story is as follows: Two women, both of them historical, and successful icons, became the best of friends, derspite their pasts. When I say pasts I mean their childhoods. One was a slave, the other a pampered Kentuckey Darling, completley different upbringings, but that didn't make much of a differen I love this book so much. I came accross it when i was looking for something that i normally wouldn't read, thanks to this book i was hooked on Ann Rinaldi historical novels for such a long time. the story is as follows: Two women, both of them historical, and successful icons, became the best of friends, derspite their pasts. When I say pasts I mean their childhoods. One was a slave, the other a pampered Kentuckey Darling, completley different upbringings, but that didn't make much of a difference. So the two of them became incredibly close friends. That's one way of putting it. Basically the book covers the childhoods of the esteemed Elizabeth Keckley, and Mary Todd Lincoln, the first Lady of The United States of America. The Book is very fast paced and a great read. I hope my review has done it justice, despite its typos.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    Ann Rinaldi’s historical writing style always keeps me reading. She truly brings history to life. For those that enjoy history, her books are perfect. The author sucks you into Mary Todd’s life as a girl trying to live in a house with her horrible step mom. She does her research well, and is very good at turning that information into story form. My only complaint would be that I wish it was not split between Mary’s life and Elizabeth’s. But that it had been written as one sweeping novel.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Mary Todd Lincoln calls for her best friend, Elizabeth Keckley, after Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Unbeknownst to her, her guards are unaware of the friendship and message and keep Elizabeth from her. Exploring the themes of friendship in spite of racial and social differences, this powerful story will show children that no matter where you're from, you can be friends with whomever you choose. Mary Todd Lincoln calls for her best friend, Elizabeth Keckley, after Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Unbeknownst to her, her guards are unaware of the friendship and message and keep Elizabeth from her. Exploring the themes of friendship in spite of racial and social differences, this powerful story will show children that no matter where you're from, you can be friends with whomever you choose.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Awallens

    This was an interesting read. It reviews the childhoods of the two women from when they were young. This author does such a good job of blending fact with fiction, and the part I like best is she tells you what was real and what she made up at the end. She's a great YA author and really makes kids interested in reading historical fiction. This was an interesting read. It reviews the childhoods of the two women from when they were young. This author does such a good job of blending fact with fiction, and the part I like best is she tells you what was real and what she made up at the end. She's a great YA author and really makes kids interested in reading historical fiction.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I bought this historical novel at the Lincoln Home Exhibit in Springfield, Ill. The growing up years of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley were well told. Elisabeth bought her own freedom from slavery and was Mary's dressmaker while she was in the White House. There were some very sad moments in both of their lives. It is suggested for children 10 and up. I bought this historical novel at the Lincoln Home Exhibit in Springfield, Ill. The growing up years of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley were well told. Elisabeth bought her own freedom from slavery and was Mary's dressmaker while she was in the White House. There were some very sad moments in both of their lives. It is suggested for children 10 and up.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristal

    Based on the real friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, this novel starts with the younger version of each woman, giving a brief background into their lives. Then explains how they met and what their friendship meant to each woman. While this is a wonderful YA novel, it was written well enough for any adult wanting to learn about these two. Very inspirational.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dotty

    Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley -- but a bit uneven. The story is inspiring but the writing was not -- author seemed to take the short way out and used summary narration to cover gaps in the women’s lives. I’d like to read more about these two, but a fuller treatment would be more satisfying

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marie-José

    This story made me realise again how lucky I was to grow up without having to be afraid to be sold or to be beaten or hurt in another way, or to be afraid of family being sold and ripped apart. Different times from the past, injustice that still happens in some parts of the world... I am a lucky person and it is a story worth reading!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carla Schuyler

    I enjoyed this book, but found it lacking in being about the actual friendship. It was truly separate stories of two different girls (one white and one black) growing up in a volatile time in our nation. The stories are mostly fact based. Living in Kentucky, we are surrounded by the historic Lincoln sites and I’ve been fascinated to read more about his wife. 3.5 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jen (bookscoffeedogs)

    Good historical book for teens learning about Civil War era.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen Gibson

    Ann Rinaldi is one of the best historical fiction writers I know. This book had a few weak spots where she appeared to be "telling" rather than letting the reader "discover" but overall I liked it. Ann Rinaldi is one of the best historical fiction writers I know. This book had a few weak spots where she appeared to be "telling" rather than letting the reader "discover" but overall I liked it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Wonderful Historical Fiction - actually tells the story of Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary Todd Lincoln always dreamed of living in the White House and this is her story of growing up and meeting Abraham Lincoln. Elizabeth Keckley is a slave who bought her own freedom by sewing for the wealthy.

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