Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedomand of the knowledge she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan, Aminata helps pen the Book of Negroes, a list of blacks rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. There Aminata finds a life of hardship and stinging prejudice. When the British abolitionists come looking for "adventurers" to create a new colony in Sierra Leone, Aminata assists in moving 1,200 Nova Scotians to Africa and aiding the abolitionist cause by revealing the realities of slavery to the British public. This captivating story of one woman's remarkable experience spans six decades and three continents and brings to life a crucial chapter in world history.
BookBrowse note: Originally published in Canada as The Book of Negroes, published in the USA as Someone Knows My Name.
And now I am old
I SEEM TO HAVE TROUBLE DYING. By all rights, I should not have lived this long. But I still can smell trouble riding on any wind, just as surely as I could tell you whether it is a stew of chicken necks or pigs feet bubbling in the iron pot on the fire. And my ears still work just as good as a hound dogs. People assume that just because you dont stand as straight as a sapling, youre deaf. Or that your mind is like pumpkin mush. The other day, when I was being led into a meeting with a bishop, one of the society ladies told another, We must get this woman into Parliament soon. Who knows how much longer shell be with us? Half bent though I was, I dug my fingers into her ribs. She let out a shriek and spun around to face me. Careful, I told her, I may outlast you!
There must be a reason why I have lived in all these lands, survived all those water crossings, while others fell from bullets ...
Turning the pages of Hill's book is effortless in one sense and very difficult in another. Protagonist Aminata Diallo's desire for freedom is unquenchable, her drive inspiring and superhuman. The losses she experiences, however, are just as potent as her will. Brief joys of love and family are suffocated by mourning time and time again. Some scenes approach the threshold of heartache plausible for one soul to bear, requiring Hill to find or create a new purpose for Aminata's fight for life and freedom to continue. Most often, her rare literacy and gift for languages is her saving grace, offering a welcome nod to the power of reading and writing to change a life – or the direction of an entire nation.
(Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
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