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Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander: A Book Review

Carolina Built
Author: Kianna Alexander
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Gallery
Release Date: February 22, 2022
Pages: 327
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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 away, it becomes increasingly difficult for her to pursue her real estate aspirations. She finds herself immersed in deepening her marriage, mothering her daughters, and being a dutiful daughter and granddaughter. Still, she manages to teach herself to be a businesswoman, 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.


       My Review: Carolina Built is a biographical novel of Josephine Napoleon Leary, who was born an African slave but became a successful real estate entrepreneur in North Carolina. Josephine dreams of building a future for her family. She and her husband move to Edenton, North Carolina where they own a barber shop. While being a wife and mother, Josephine wants to pursue her passion for real estate. However, she learns that it is difficult to pursue her dreams from the ground up.


     Josephine Napoleon Leary is a fascinating and hard working businesswoman. She was born from slavery but the emancipation freed her as a young woman. From an early age, she loved book learning and is very intellectual. She wants to build a legacy that her children and grandchildren will be proud of. She is very determined to pursue her dreams. Even when it's difficult, she never gives up. Josephine also learns business on her own. While she makes some mistakes, she is able to learn from them. Therefore, Josephine is an admirable woman who worked from the ground up and became a successful entrepreneur.


     Overall, this novel is about perseverance, family, and ambition. The message of the novel is to never give up on your dreams. Aside from Josephine, I felt the supporting characters were flat and seemed to blend in together. There were some parts of the novel that I thought were very rushed. Still, I thought this novel was very well-written! I found Josephine’s story to be inspirational and moving. Prior to reading Carolina Built, I had never heard of her, and I’m curious to know why she is largely forgotten. Josephine Napoleon Leary was a courageous woman who continued to work hard despite the adversity she faced. Thus, Carolina Built shines a light on an important but forgotten successful entrepreneur. I recommend this for fans of Island Queen, The Great Mrs. Elias, and A Betting Woman!


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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