Reader reviews and comments on Someone Knows My Name, plus links to write your own review.

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Someone Knows My Name

aka: The Book of Negroes

by Lawrence Hill

Someone Knows My Name
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2007, 512 pages
    Nov 2008, 512 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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Power Reviewer Lani (11/14/07)

Someone Knows My Name
How can one not be intrigued with a book whose first sentence reads,"I seem to have trouble dying."? This historical fiction novel of a young African child educates one to the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade in a painful raw voice. What was remarkable to me is how well this male author was able to give authenticity to a female child's voice and her transition to a woman. Indeed, the novel had wonderful melodic sections, well developed and distinct voices, superb storytelling and dramatic tension. I read the 486 page book in two days. Needless to say, sleep was unimportant when reading such a masterpiece!
Eileen (11/14/07)

Amazing tale of slavery
This is an absorbing, powerful novel that transports the reader to a distant time and place with an ease that is truly amazing. Hill’s intelligent and resourceful narrator, Aminata Diallo, has a wonderfully clear, strong voice. Her tale is just as much about the power of kindness and optimism as it is about the destructiveness of hatred and selfishness. It would be an excellent book club selection.
John (11/14/07)

Compelling story of identify and understanding
I just finished Hill's third novel and found in Aminata Diallo a compelling character. Aminata, known as Meena, is forced into a journey of self-exploration and identity after being enslaved. As the novel seemlessly moves across 50+ years, Aminata searches for a role in a society that enslaves and then elevates her. Although it is easy for some to compare this book to other books with similar plots (the survival of slaves in the Americas), Hill transcends the genre by creating a well-researched search for identity. Propelled by the wise words of her father and mother, Aminata nevers forgets her childhood in Africa; but, like any good journey story, Aminata is confused about her role in the quest. She believes that it is to return to her village, but her role is greater: she is a speaker for her people, a djeli (storyteller). Hill has the ability to move a story along quickly, considering the length, with involving secondary characters and poetic prose. Like Aminata, Hill is a capable and engaging storyteller.
Linda (11/14/07)

A truly epic historical gem
Wow! How can I describe this book with just so few words! A female version of Roots? An African counterpart to Memoirs of a Geisha? Or maybe not compare it at all but rather recognize it for what it is on it's own; a truly epic historical gem. Someone Knows My Name is an important book about the West African slave trade and a young slave girl named Meena.
Built around the British military document, or 'Book of Negroes' that was written during the time of the Revolutionary War to track the negroes that were being relocated to Nova Scotia, it is both haunting and inspiring. We follow Meena as her adventures take us from West Africa, to South Carolina, to New York, to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone. Meena herself is certainly a strong and fascinating character.

As far as bookclubs; what book club doesn't like a novel that's both historical and cultural, and is narrated by a compelling and determined protagonist.
I am grateful to have had a chance to read and review this spectacular novel.
Katharine (11/14/07)

Slave Narrative
Aminata Diallo has a name and a history and it is her job, one she didn't even choose, to tell us about what it was like to be stolen from her village, and enslaved in America. You might think you know about the slave trade, but you don't understand it, it's daily rhythms and international consequences until you read this book. Great writing, wonderful images, great humor, even, and a must read for anyone who ever even heard of Alex Haley and/or Roots.
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