Ariela Freedman

March 2022


How do you change the world? Meet Léa, polyglot, labour activist, farbrente feminist. Born to a large Jewish family and raised in a French Catholic town, Léa moves fluidly between languages and cultures. Her search for meaning and her instinct for justice place her at the centre of the great changes of the 20th century. From street fights in Berlin to protests in Montreal, she defies the expectations and limitations of women’s lives, wins historic victories for the union movement, and grapples with her own convictions.

Based on the life of famed activist Léa Roback, this novel brings to life a heroine emboldened by political struggles that resonate to this day.


Ariela Freedman was born in Brooklyn and has lived in Jerusalem, New York, Calgary, London, and Montreal. She has a Ph.D. from New York University and teaches literature at Concordia’s Liberal Arts College in Montreal, where she lives with her family. Her debut, Arabic for Beginners (LLP, 2017), was shortlisted for the QWF Concordia University First Book Prize and won the 2018 J. I. Segal Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, A Joy to be Hidden (LLP, 2019), was shortlisted for the Segal Prize in 2020, and was a finalist for the The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction.
[Photo: Lev Wexler]

BUY Physical Copy

$24.95 | ISBN: 9781773901022

Format: Trade paper

Size: 8 x 5 in.

Pages: 296

What they say
High praise!

"In sensual, cinematic prose, Ariela Freedman tells the story of a true Montreal heroine. This sweeping novel brings a forgotten chapter of twentieth-century history vividly to life."
––Claire Holden Rothman, author The Heart Specialist

"Both a portrait of an exceptional life and a gimlet-eyed view of the upheavals of the first half of the 20th century, Ariela Freedman’s novel reads like a real-life Bildungsroman. Léa, indomitable and idealistic, journeys from adolescent inklings of social inequities through a believably, tenderly, and, often necessarily brutally evoked series of political awakenings and disillusionments which carry the reader seamlessly from Montreal to France, New York, Berlin, Rome, and Moscow.

Utterly engaging, Léa is a welcome addition to the literature of social justice."
––Zsuzsi Gartner, author The Beguiling and Better Living Through Plastic Explosives


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