Thursday, August 26, 2010
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
I don't know how any of us in the twenty-first century can begin to comprehend what it was like to have been forced into slavery. Sure, we complain about being overworked and underpaid, but for the most part we are able to move wherever and whenever we choose. We are free.
Aminata Diallo's story, as told in Lawrence Hill's fantastic novel The Book of Negroes (known in the United States as Someone Knows My Name) is one that is sad, shocking, and yet inspiring at the same time. Kidnapped from her village in Africa as a young girl, Aminata endures the long walk to the ship that will take her across the ocean, that terrible voyage to America, and the hard, unimaginable life as a slave; all the while remembering where she came from and longing to return.
Aminata's story travels a full circle - physically, from Africa, to South Carolina, to New York, to Nova Scotia, to London and back to Africa; and emotionally in a similar way. She encounters many people in her life -- good and bad, black and white -- that help her keep her on the path to what becomes her ultimate goal: becoming and remaining a free woman.
Lawrence Hill has written a wonderful novel and I am impressed with his ability to create such a wonderful female character. It is at times not easy to read, but I am glad that I did.
This is my second book completed for the Canadian Book Challenge 4.