Book Review: Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander

Posted February 17, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 29 Comments

Carolina Built
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Kianna Alexander
Publication Date February 22, 2022
Published by Simon and Schuster
Purchase Here Buy on Amazon US - Buy on Apple - Buy on Kobo - Buy on Google - Buy at Barnes and Noble - Buy on Waterstones - Buy on Audible - Buy on Amazon UK
Genres: Fiction / African American & Black / Historical, Fiction / Biographical, Fiction / Historical / Civil War Era, Fiction / Historical / General
Pages: 336
Format: ARC

A vivid and moving novel based on the incredible life of real estate magnate Josephine N. Leary—a previously untold story of passion, perseverance, and building a legacy after emancipation in North Carolina.

Josephine N. Leary is determined to build a life of her own and a future for her family. When she moves to Edenton, North Carolina from the plantation where she was born, she is free, newly married, and ready to follow her dreams.

As the demands of life pull Josephine’s attention—deepening her marriage, mothering her daughters, supporting her grandmother—she struggles to balance her real estate aspirations with the realities of keeping life going every day. She teaches herself to be a business woman, to manage her finances, and to make smart investments in the local real estate market. But with each passing year, it grows more and more difficult to focus on building her legacy from the ground up.

Moving and inspiring, Josephine Leary’s untold story speaks to the part of us that dares to dream bigger, tear down whatever stands in our way, and build something better for the loved ones we leave behind.

My Review:

Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander is a fictionalized story of the real-life story of Josephine N. Leary an inspirational woman who was far ahead of her time.  This fast-paced, sweeping historical drama is packed with historical details and a strong, independent heroine.  

The book starts with Josephine, as she moves to a new town from a plantation where she was raised as a slave and is now freed.  She meets and marries Archer, who she calls Sweety and they start their lives together.  Both Josephine and Archer are ambitious and want to improve their lives, but it’s Josephine who starts to buy property as Archer runs his barbershop.  This story follows Josephine and Archer as they become parents to two daughters, and experience the ups and downs of their lives.  

The book is told from various points of view, mostly from Josephine’s point of view.  The book is dialogue-heavy and is written in a very matter-of-fact way. The trials and tribulations of Josephine and her family were interspersed with historical details of the time period.  The book was fast-paced and easy to read, however, I would have liked a bit more character development for these characters.  I found the prologue and author notes are extremely interesting, as are the photos of the storefront, that still stands today.   

I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Kianna Alexander

I've always loved the written word. For as long as I can remember, I read as much as I could, as often as I could. Cereal boxes, newspapers, product packaging. Ebony, Essence, and Jet Magazine. Billboards. I loved it all. I read the entire Fear Street series, as well as the Sweet Valley Books, from Twins and Friends through Sweet Valley High. Each week I'd bring 15 or 20 books home from the library, and read them all before the due date.

Now, my mother owned a pristine, barely touched collection of Harlequin romance novels, and I was not to touch them under any circumstances. Well, as a teenager, you know what that meant. I read some of them, and got my first introduction to romance.

When I was sixteen, I picked up my stepmother's copy of Night Song, by Beverly Jenkins. The cover showed an obviously historical image of a black couple, against a beautiful backdrop, locked in a passionate embrace. With my love of history, I had to crack this book. What I read inside literally blew my mind. I was exposed to a wonderful, touching love story involving people who looked like me! What a thrill. To this day Night Song remains my favorite book, and I credit it with planting the seed of desire to write romance. I didn't get serious until many years later, but that's where it all began.

Have you read Carolina Built? Do you like historical fiction? Please comment below!

29 responses to “Book Review: Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander

  1. […] Properly.Wednesday: Can’t Wait Wednesday #34: Lost and Found in Paris by Lian Dolan.Thursday: Book Review: Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander Friday: Book Review: A Brush with Love by Mazey EddingsSaturday: Stacking the ShelvesSunday: The […]

  2. I am glad to see your review of this one, Wendy. I really want to read it. I don’t read a lot of books set in this time period in the U.S., admittedly, but not because of lack of interest. Josephine sounds like a great character. Thank you for your insightful review.

  3. This sure sounds interesting. I like fiction that’s (loosely?) based on the lives of real people. It always makes me wonder what they’d think of how a modern author reinterpreted their life. I’d like to think that Josephine would be pleased by this book. 🙂

  4. Great review! I am normally not interested in anything dealing with business, but the characters and their backstory and the history of the times would make for an interesting read.

  5. Great review Wendy! I really enjoy historical fiction based on true stories particularly when the central character is so ambitious. Thanks for sharing.

  6. This does sound like a very compelling story. I would want to see lots of character development too with this kind of tale. Excellent review, Wendy!