Lawrence Hill: I used The Book of Negroes as the title for my novel, in Canada, because it derives from a historical document of the same name kept by British naval officers at the tail end of the American Revolutionary War. It documents the 3,000 blacks who had served the King in the war and were fleeing Manhattan for Canada in 1783. Unless you were in The Book of Negroes, you couldn’t escape to Canada. My character, an African woman named Aminata Diallo whose story is based on this history, has to get into the book before she gets out.
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill is a novel that narrates the life of Aminata Diallo, who was abducted from her village, Bayo, at the age of 11. Aminata was bright beyond her years and even at a young age had learned from her mom how to be a midwife and from his father how to read. Using the skills she learned, Aminata took on the role of a midwife and eventually learned how to communicate in English as well. During the slave voyage to South Carolina, a boy her age, Chekura, who had been forced to help the slave traders, had cared and grown close to Aminata.
When the ship arrived at South Carolina, the captives who survived were sold and dispersed in a slave auction. Even though this separated Aminata and Chekura, they sought out one another and their affection for each other grew as time went on. This novel is centered on Aminata’s pursuit of freedom and her dream to return to Bayo.
The Book of Negroes is a book that makes you understand the cruelty of slavery and the implications of not being free. The storyline is compact and successfully communicated the different nuances of the challenges Aminata faced. Despite having introduced many characters throughout the novel, the character development is brilliantly done. You can feel connected to the characters and have an understanding of all the different perspectives presented.
The Book of Negroes goes into great extent detailing the cruelties humans can do to each other. However, it also shows how far having a strong will can go in helping you achieve your dreams. Being separated by slavery, Aminata and Chekura were able to stay loyal to each other no matter the distance or danger presented in their way.
The book is beautifully written and provides a good understanding of what living in slavery means. You learn to relate and care for the characters and especially Aminata Diallo. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys great character development or to anyone who wants to have a deeper understanding of what it means to live in slavery.
What book are you currently reading? I’d love to hear any books that you’d recommend as well!
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