Saturday, November 24, 2012

Someone Knows My Name

Someone Knows My NameSomeone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't remember where I heard about this book or what prompted me to choose it from my long list of "to-reads" when I was last ordering books, but I loved it! It has been quite awhile since I had time to escape into a great book and during my traveling for Thanksgiving I finally had the opportunity and am so glad this is the one I chose to do so in.
The author tells a vivid tale of a young girl growing up happily in northern Africa in the mid-1700s when she is stolen by slave traders and brought across the Atlantic to South Carolina. She lives an extraordinary life, so full of hardships and devastation but also of hope and good fortune. I loved Aminata, the main character. She was brave, intelligent, loving, independent, loyal and sometimes too trusting. I found myself constantly thinking about her even when I wasn't reading it. Even though she is a fictional character, I know similar people existed and my heart broke for her as a young girl alone on the slave ship, again as she faced injustices time and time again, and the most when her family continued to be torn from her life.
It made me think a lot about the complex history of the slave trade from Africa. Could it have been prevented? Could it have stopped sooner? What would Africa have been like had it never been exploited? What would the history in our own country have been like had it all gone differently? Could the settlements in Africa where freed slaves were brought back been set up in a way that would have eased the transition? Liberia is still such a disaster now and it seems we should have learned something from those early settlements in Sierra Leone.
I SO wish I could suggest this book for my book club because I think the discussion could be amazing! There are just a couple moments that I think may be a bit too much for some of our members, even though the author did a good job of handling them in a delicate way. I am sure much of the truth from that time was much worse.
My favorite review says, "A magnificent, epic novel...Aminata Diallo is one of the great heroines of modern literature, and her story is not only heartstopping and brutal, but also one of great humanity."

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