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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Finding Liberty by Regina Puckett is a short young adult science fiction story. Aapeli is safe from the savage people-eating mountain population as he lives on board his airship. Keeping his own rules and believing that love will only lead to hate, he lives life on his own and on his own terms. The Great War destroyed civilisation 800 years previously and survivors manage the best they can. Aapeli travels from place to place trading food, and knows which areas to avoid if he wants to stay alive. One day he finds and rescues a small child called Liberty. He takes Liberty on board his airship and there she grows up calling Aapeli “father,” and the two have a special bond. One day Liberty ignores her father’s rules about safety and goes in search of him in the dangerous subways of a derelict city. Suddenly she has to be the grown up, and Liberty learns that love may cause sadness or pain, but it has also given her the motivation to live on.
Finding Liberty is a well written book with an uncomplicated plot that explores the effects on lives when so many rules must be kept. Regina Puckett's descriptions and reasons for Aapeli’s fears are believable and thought-provoking. The reader gets a good sense of the dangers the characters must avoid if they are to survive in this fictitious future. It is a reminder of how much we may take for granted. I loved the choice of name for the child: Liberty. Liberty or freedom is something that eludes Aapeli – his rules must be kept in order to stay safe. Then it is Liberty who questions the rules and eventually the two find themselves in danger when they risk breaking them.
Although the book is short, Puckett has created characters who are well defined, and the plot unfolds naturally and at good pace. There is a sense of suspense and danger as, through the story’s events, the character of Liberty matures as she discovers for herself what might be true about life, love, and forming a bond with another. A twist of an ending in some ways, and also a hint that there will be more adventures, hope, and personal growth for Liberty.