The Book of Negroes has been on my bookshelf for far too long, that much I know… I can be kind of picky about my historical fiction and need to be in the mood for it, but every time I read a book like The Book of Negroes I wonder why I don’t read historical fiction every single day.
The Book of Negroes has been making it onto recommended book lists for a number of years, it is a bestseller, and has won at least one award.
I finally read The Book of Negroes and I couldn’t put it down. It was so good.
Aminata Diallo (also known as Meena Dee in English) is from Africa in the mid-1700’s. She was abducted at the age of 11, made to walk for 3 moons (3 months roughly?) to the coast, where she was branded and taken to South Carolina to be a slave. Eventually, she was purchased by a different man and taken to New York City, and from there she escaped slaver and eventually she was able to go to Nova Scotia. What helped her survive her voyage to the Americas was her talent as a midwife, a skill she learned from her parents. She was also quick to learn to read and learn other languages, she is clearly a brilliant character. From Nova Scotia, Aminata was able to sail back to Africa to settle on the coast of Sierra Leone. Again, this very well travelled woman had the opportunity to go England to help the abolitionists end slavery.
I hate simplifying such a complex and powerful story, but I also don’t want to spoil the book with to many details (this is all basically on the back cover so no sweat). The author actually used a pile of real sources for the book, so even though Aminata is a fictionalized character, her character is based on true historical information.
I enjoyed The Book of Negroes, mostly for the fact that it is told from the side of the African people who were enslaved, and it tells a story about the challenges that slaves faced in the Americas during this period. Reading about this really frames the reality of slavery as a awful force and the ability for people to redeem themselves and remain strong the face of adversity.
The Book of Negroes is an important part of history told from a point of view that we all need to hear. I would totally recommend it to everyone who needs a goo book to read.