Wednesday 19 January 2011

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

Published by HarperCollins Publishers and HarperCollins Publishers Canada

The Book of Negroes follows the story of 11 year old Aminata Diallo. It begins with Aminata sharing a brief glimpse into life within her village just before she is abducted for slavery. What follows is a sometimes grueling, oftentimes horrifying account of everything she must survive in order to finally achieve freedom.

When I picked this book up, I wasn't sure what to expect. I certainly hadn't anticipated that this novel would prove difficult to read at times due to the content. There are scenes in the book which not only tug at the heartstrings but rather, brutally pull them from the readers chest. I found it to be an overwhelming read at times and had to put it down (for those 'Friends' fans out there, I almost contemplated putting it in the freezer). It didn't take long to pick it back up though as I was so invested in the character. Aminata is probably one of my favourite female characters of all time. Her strength, and determination are limitless and though she has suffered so much tragedy, she continuously looks for the positive in every given situation and maintains a sense of hope that cannot be dashed. What constantly played at the back of my mind is that this was the life of a strong girl who, thanks to a little education, was taken on a different path that was a little more lenient. If this is such a path, the unknown life of those who were less blessed, just doesn't bear thinking about.

I learned so much from this book that I hadn't known. Not only is it an eye-opening look into the life of a slave but it really brings history to life and led me to want to know more about the subject, especially the history of slavery in Nova Scotia. I can't rave about this book enough. It's certainly clear how it became a Canada Reads winner. The characters are brilliantly developed and the novel is flawlessly written. It's easy to forget while reading, that this is written by a male author thanks to the way he captures the female essence so brilliantly in his writing. The range of emotion that this novel brought out of me as I read it, was simply awe-inspiring. I also love that this book is set in different countries (Africa, America, Canada, and England) and as such, it focuses on a variety of cultures. The Book of Negroes is easily one of my all time favourite reads and if you haven't checked it out yet, please do! You won't regret it.


Jeane said...

I have this one on my shelf and am very tempted to read it next! Is it anything like Roots? which also started in the village... I love that book!

Charlene Martel said...

It's definitely well worth the read Jeane! I sadly can't comment on how it compares to roots. I am pretty certain I have a copy of Roots somewhere and yet I never quite got around to reading it. I may have to dig it out!!

Literary said...

Thank you for this review.

This book has been on my virtual shelf for the past year. I've tried purchasing it at my local indie bookstores but it is never in stock.

After reading your review I'm even more excited about reading this book.

Thank you,

Charlene Martel said...

Thank you for your kind words, Literary. I do hope you find a copy soon and I'm sure you'll really like it! I really want to read it again already.

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