The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (contains spoilers)

This book came highly recommended by various members of the Let’s Read book club, and had been part of the “must read’ list for close to two years.

The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill, tells the story of Aminatta Diallo, from her innocent childhood (in what is now known as Mali) through her life and times in South Carolina, Nova Scotia and beyond.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book – however, it did read like two different stories. The first half was tear-inducing  being snatched from what she later came to know as Africa. This was complemented by her travails in North America – which read like a triumphant story.

However, the story of her relationship with Chekura rang untrue as it is unbelievable in my opinion that a slave could really be gallivanting around the American countryside, as freely as he did. The constant returns of Chekura became irritating after a while, as it seemed to be more about giving her a love story, that wasn’t really needed.

Another unbelievable part of the book was when Aminatta finally made it back to Africa (granted she never returned to her home village) and then decided to go to London to help the abolitionists with their fight. This lacked credibility, yet again, as seven eighths of the book were devoted to ‘I want to go home’.

I would recommend the book despite my misgivings – as it did evoke emotion and also lead me to read around the central themes.

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