The Book of Negroes:  (U.S. Title: Someone Knows My Name) by Lawrence HillThe Book of Negroes:  (U.S. Title: Someone Knows My Name) by Lawrence Hillsticker-burst

The Book of Negroes: (U.S. Title: Someone Knows My Name)

byLawrence Hill

Paperback | October 15, 2007

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Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle—a string of slaves— Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.” This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.

Aminata’s eventual return to Sierra Leone—passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America—is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey. Lawrence Hill is a master at transforming the neglected corners of history into brilliant imaginings, as engaging and revealing as only the best historical fiction can be. A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.

Heather's Review

This book tells the story of the life of Aminata Diallo, born in Bayo, West Africa, in 1745 who at the age of 11 is captured and sold into slavery. Detailing her struggles as a slave on a South Carolina plantation and her efforts to regain her freedom, the story is both harrowing and awe inspiring.

see all heather's picks
LAWRENCE HILL is the author of several novels and works of non-fiction, including the nationally bestsellingThe Book of Negroes,Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in CanadaandSome Great Thing. He also co-authored, with Joshua Key,The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq....
Title:The Book of Negroes: (U.S. Title: Someone Knows My Name)Format:PaperbackDimensions:512 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.28 inPublished:October 15, 2007Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554681561

ISBN - 13:9781554681563

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful story I read this book years ago and it still sits with me.
Date published: 2017-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Insiring heartfelt story A great story on the experience of slavery. It had me reading until the very end.
Date published: 2017-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top 5 favourite books I read those book pretty much once a year and it never losses its value, it's a definitely great read.
Date published: 2017-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spectacular! I couldn't put the book down! I was captured by the story of Aminata from the first to the last page. Amazing read!
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a great book! This is a great book! I'm not sure what else I can say. I loved that it was well researched and historical, but also so engaging in a way a fictional book would normally be with the story line. It is powerful, and just a great book! I completely recommend!
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Book of Negoes Interesting and heartbeaking story
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read Unable to put the book to rest. Read it in a little over a day (allowing for other things in life). A must for those who are into historical renditions of the slave trade
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent So wonderfully told. The story of a young woman's epic journey through slavery. The depth of her character is developed gradually, until you really feel like you know her, and root for her at every turn. A must-read. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must read This book is a must read. Well written and very interesting. He gets you right at the beginning. Even if you do not read many books , you will start this one and you will finish it. I have recommended it to many and all so far enjoyed it very much.
Date published: 2016-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Author - Great Book One of the absolutely best books I've ever read.
Date published: 2016-09-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Exceptional Lawrence Hill is an outstanding writer. My only wish is that more the novel took place in Canada.
Date published: 2016-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An incredible read While the mini-series really didn't do the book justice, this novel was hard to put down, tough to read at parts and had me near tears. Incredibly moving.
Date published: 2015-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Historical Fiction This book was amazing. I could not put this book down. The book told the story of Meena from childhood to old age perfectly. While reading you couldn't help but wonder how on earth such atrocities could have occurred. This character was stolen from her land, sold and was forced to give up her freedom and eventually had both her children stolen from her. While all this is going on in her life Meena continues to assert her sense of agency. She seeks out education and books and eventually gives the same education to those around her. She finds her way back home after everyone says it will be impossible. The courage and strength of this character is admirable and I could not find one negative thing to say about the way her story was told. While this is a work of fiction it really helps you to reflect on what life would have been like for a person of colour back in these times. I give this book a 5 out of 5.
Date published: 2014-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping. Lawrence Hill's prose is easy to read and the narrative is gripping. The story of  life and struggles of Aminata/Meena, an eleven years old girl who is kidnapped and sold to slavery, takes geographical and emotional twits and turns testing the heroine's strength and courage. A must read.  
Date published: 2014-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic This is beyond a doubt one of the best books I have read in a long time. Congrats to Lawrence Hill. This novel based on fact is a vey intriguing drama that takes you through the very troublesome life of Aminata during the slave trades of the eighteen hundreds. It would make a fantastic mini series to document these trying times. Hard to put down and one of those novels that once finished you want more. Go for it!
Date published: 2013-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Its a must! Read it, that is all I need to say. It is a book that you might have to put down a couple of times because it gets so intense.
Date published: 2013-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not much more to say This book has already received amazing reviews and I agree with them. One of the best books I have ever read.
Date published: 2012-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Will tear at your heart strings Such an amazing read. What a journey the book takes you through. Similar type of story to A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner, but not as intense. It's a story being told and you're listening. You don't get attached to the chatacters in the same way. There is sadness, but you know there is more to tell.
Date published: 2012-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This book was on a list of books to choose from at the beginning of my fall semester in college last year. I chose this book because it's so different from anything else I've ever read. Lawrence Hill successfully captures the female voice in this novel, and you're rooting for Aminata through the whole story. Some parts of the novel are a bit graphic - just as a warning, but it truly adds to the overall feel of the book and also to its authenticity. So yes, I would definitely recommend this book to others that are looking for a great read!
Date published: 2012-05-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from "feel all your emotions in one book" no words can describe the way this book makes you feel during and after. terror, courage, sadness, pride, happiness, heartfelt, curiosity, embarrassment, satisfaction, etc both the reader and protagonist feel the same emotions. hill makes the reader feel exactly what aminata/ meena is feeling. this is a must read for an intense emotional ride of up and downs. you will be crying, smiling and bearing your teeth in anger. a great learning experience for anyone who do not know about the slavery in Nova Scotia and how an entire race of people were treated for a long time. themes: a fight for freedom, growing up, determination for life, and ultimately the pain of love and loss. an amazing book for readers of any age. it will touch you from the inside like no novel has before. this is one of those books you will be thinking about even after you've started reading another.
Date published: 2012-04-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eight Bookcases Check out my review of Hill's work on my blog at:
Date published: 2012-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a wonderful story. This was honestly one of the greatest novels I have read in a long time. I picked it up a year ago and gave up on it after part one but decided to give it another go last weekend. I could not put it down. The characters are so real, the description so vivid. It is heartbreaking and inspiring. Really, really recommend it.
Date published: 2012-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Absolutely loved this book; could not put it down. I have recommended it to many people and they have loved it as well. You won't regret buying this.
Date published: 2012-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME This has been the best book I have ever read, and I have purchased it for all my best girlfriends and my daughters. Everyone Loved it!!
Date published: 2011-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW The story is just amazing. To think what the slaves had gone through, what they suffered. Aminata is such a strong, and inspiring woman. I cried, I laughed, I loved it. A must read.
Date published: 2011-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Speechless An enlightening piece of work which leaves you astounded.
Date published: 2011-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! The Book of Negroes was such an amazing book. It really touched my heart. I felt like I was right beside the character as she experienced everything. I highly recommand this book!
Date published: 2011-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Triumphant! The Book of Negroes is a story about a young girl who is stolen from her village in modern day Guinea, sold into the slave trade, brought across the 'big river' to South Carolina and bought by a man who owns an indigo plantation. It is a story of her quest for freedom and the lives that she touches along the way. Although undeniably sad, The Book of Negroes is a tale that pulls at your heart strings and can show you a side of humanity that is no longer seen today to the same extent. The protagonist of this book, Aminata Diallo, is a strong and smart woman who can't be bothered with fear, and continually prevails in her quest for freedom. This book taught me a lot about the slave trade in the US around the time of the revolutionary war; of the nature of the relationship between owner and slave, the productive capacities of many plantations in the south, the tensions between American 'rebels' and British Loyalists, etc. This book was a unique combination of riveting plot line, character development, and historical facts, those that seem to have slipped into the background of today's rhetoric and attention. I can't recommend this book highly enough, but be prepared for a tough and emotional journey (especially at the beginning).
Date published: 2011-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Wow. At times I felt like I was there...watching this story unfold. Great details! I will definatley follow this Canadian author. This book was an eye opener for me. I felt so devistated for the main character as one aweful event after another happened to this lady. I didn't want it to end. I was a bit disappointed at the end. It could have had a stronger ending.
Date published: 2011-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So much detail, seemed very realistic In the mid-1700s, Aminata is only 11-years old when her parents are murdered and she is kidnapped from her village in Africa. She is forced to walk for months to the ocean where she boards a ship to cross. She arrives in South Carolina, where she is sold to an indigo plantation owner and works there until she is then sold to another man and his wife, where she helps keep their home. After a number of years, "Meena" escapes to New York, and after a time, she finds herself in "The Book of Negroes" - a real list of Negroes who want to escape New York and the rebels for Nova Scotia as British Loyalists. All her life, she has really just wanted to go home, back to her village in Africa. This was very very good, there was so much detail, and it seemed so realistic. The Book of Negroes was a real list - something I had never heard of - and it was interesting (and sad) to read how the mostly former slaves were treated when they arrived in Canada. I waffled for a long time between giving the book 4 or 4.5 stars; unfortunately I lowered it to 4 stars because I was disappointed in the ending, which took away from the book's realism for me.
Date published: 2011-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I really enjoyed this book. I hadn't expected for a book that was so dense to be such a page turner. I found it to be very eloquent and spoke to the true nature of the slave trade that existed over two hundred years ago. The words seemed to melt into my soul like a plate of really good food. I think what was fascinating about the book is that the main character seemed to avoid death, but never seemed to avoid tragedy. An excellent read.
Date published: 2011-06-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unparalleled Perspective "The Books Of Negroes" draws you in from the first chapters and provides the reader an unparalleled view of the experience of an abducted child, forced into years of slavery, and prevented the freedoms we so often take for granted. If you have never examined the alternative to the freedom you may enjoy- this book will certainly paint for you a picture of humans as a commodity.
Date published: 2011-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Great writing. It was one of those hard to put down books. You always wanted to see what happened next. It made you believe even though it is a work of fiction. A must read for everyone.
Date published: 2011-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I loved this book! I had a hard time getting into this book at the beginning, and I found some parts so sad that it was hard to read, but once I got a bit farther in the book I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2011-03-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great! form beginning till end its great! you will not be dissapointed! its long but worth it as soon as you start reading you will understand what I mean!
Date published: 2011-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How The Book of Negroes is detrimental to weak minds. “Legitimately produced, and truly inspired, fiction interprets humanity, informs the understanding, and quickens the affections. It reflects ourselves, warns us against prevailing social follies, adds rich specimens to our cabinets of character, dramatizes life for the unimaginative, daguerreotypes (photographs) it for the unobservant, multiplies experience for the isolated or inactive, and cheers ages, retirement and invalidism with an available and harmless solace. “(Henry Tuckerman). Literature provides a multidimensional experience radically different from film or video. The rhetorical language and vocabulary provide a much more definitive understanding of a message, explicitly and implicitly. This quote from Tuckerman connects the many different aspects and senses that evaluate the effectiveness and relevance of a piece of fiction. Literature does not solely create an imaginary world that tells a story created by a person, it relates itself to humanity; it relates itself to the nature of existence; it relates itself to the reality of truth, through fiction. Fiction forges a story with philosophical ideas to cunningly craft themes, motifs and a sense of realism. However, there are minds that are much too weak to comprehend or accept the realism of fiction. There are many events within the novel The Book of Negroes that provide an insight into realism. There is innocence that children posses that allows them to call upon or state something as seen or heard; because their minds resemble an unripe apple, the nature of their derogatory statement tends to be sour for many people. “I remember wondering, within a year or two of taking my first steps, why only men got to drink tea and converse, and why women were always busy. I reasoned that men were weak and needed rest” (Lawrence Hill, 13). There is an understanding that throughout history, men have been dominant over women and the rest of humanity. Men perform the occasional difficult task and claim that their job is done and it is their time to rest, while women continuously toil for many hours at a time completing a large number of deceptively uncomplicated tasks. This not be true for the most part of modern or western society, but that does not falsify the quote or the expressed interpretation of the message – from developing world to developed world where times may not be alike, but at the same time are not dissimilar, this child’s statement posses a truth of humanity through unfiltered eyes. In the essence of raw truth, the existence of man is segregated by ideology – some ideologies more educated, refined and experienced than others. “I am not a white man. I am a Jew, and that is very different. You and I are both outsiders” (Hill, 188). This quote from the book brings a sort of unity between a slave and a Jew when he relates them through their similar differences. Religiously one is persecuted for belief; racially one is persecuted for having life. Jews and Negroes having been enslaved during times of history and they share the implicit bond through bondage. The feeble mind fails to see the connection and says that even though he is Jewish, he is white – a refutable argument as simple as the mind being argued to, could be they are brothers because they are human; their bloodline separated by thousands of years. The nature of existence is defined through various philosophical ideas that provoke thought; the feeble mind shows indifference. The weak minds will continue to incoherently illegitimatise any possible truth to any possible answer because they are afraid to ask the question. Literature with its many strengths is an art form that is able to create impeccable imagery that articulates the true character of a message. “The ship became an extension of our own rotting bodies” (Hill, 94). This metaphor provides a deeper understanding and feeling of imagery that words alone could not effectively describe. Battered upon the rocking sea, the ship would sail for days, weeks, months and years at a time surviving through adversity, destitution and disease. For the frail minds, such depth and perception is detrimental because of the vividly depicted realism. Weak minds must always come to a point where they are forced to stop and contemplate. Like an hour glass, one must show concern and turn the glass over so that time may continue to be observed. Even if a homeless man attends a scholar’s assembly, it only takes one scholar to acknowledge the existence of the homeless man and bring him to light. Just as so, it only takes one piece of writing to bring a person to light; whether the mind be a fortress or a fragile palisade – excellence promotes excellence. “Weak minds may be injured by novel reading; but sensible people find both amusement and instruction therein” (Henry Ward Beecher). Without reliance on the type of fiction or the type of literature, it only takes one piece of writing to turn a weak mind in to a sensible person.
Date published: 2011-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!! This is such a great read from start to finish! Everyone should read this book!
Date published: 2011-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great tale Great tale This book was wonderful. I couldn’t put it down; the story of this woman’s life was fascinating. I thought reading about the journey and the history of some of the hardships and troubles that some Africans faced in the times of slavery was interesting yet sorrowful and absolutely gripping. This book had many ups and down and although we may know the history of what things were like in the past for African’s racism and slavery it was wonderful to read a tale about a strong young woman trying to survive and make it back to her homeland. I liked it more than Roots and Queen which are books I also enjoyed reading.
Date published: 2010-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Speechless WOW! Amazing, wonderful, dark, sad, raw, and totally touching. What a wonderful book. I am totally in love with this book. READ IT
Date published: 2010-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Story I find that I get bored quickly with many books and never finish them...But I read this book cover to cover and loved it.
Date published: 2010-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very nice story the book of Negroes is a beautiful story about the life of a abducted from her home and forced to work at a young age. this book tells us her life story. it is definitely a masterpiece and should be read.
Date published: 2010-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from READ THIS BOOK This was the ONLY book of many that our entire book club LOVED. You won't be sorry you took the time to experience this story.
Date published: 2010-10-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing A book that everyone should read.
Date published: 2010-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Wow, couldn't put it down. Took a long time to buy it because of the size of the book, but sure happy I did! What an awesome read.
Date published: 2010-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutely riveting......... could not put it down until it was finished. A top ten in the books that i have found amazing.........a must read for all
Date published: 2010-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you're looking for a Book club selection, this it it! Chosen by our book club, it was not only educational, but mind boggling. Great read and even better for conversation. We just don't realize how much prejudice we have in our lives. Marie Suzanne Dillon, author "Two Weeks in Vieques"
Date published: 2010-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deserves 10 stars Loved this book! from the beginning to the end this book was a wonderful read! I did not want it to end
Date published: 2010-08-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing story This book came to me as a friend referral. I really wasn't keen but since I respected this persons opinion I gave it a shot. Well I can tell you The Book of Negroes grabbed me from the first paragraph. Lawrence's writing style was riveting. Even when I wanted to quit because I just didn't think I could stand anymore horrific events happening to Aminata I couldn't because I had to know what happened next. This is a thought provoking and frightening look at the heart of man. Lawrence does an exceptional job of showing both the depravity and the resiliency of humans.
Date published: 2010-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this book This book is defintely a must read. I was disappointed when it was coming to an end. A definite 5 stars!!!!!
Date published: 2010-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Must Read First I'll start by saying the only books that get five stars from me are those that I would recommend and re-read. With regards to this book I would recommend it, it has an important story to tell that everyone needs to hear. This is the first book I've ever read that deals with the slave trade. It was heartbreaking. That humans were capable and still are capable (there are currently thousands of women and children being sold into the sex trade, don't think slavery is dead and gone) is disturbing. Some of the details were gruesome and difficult at times to read, and I was constantly amazed at the resilience of the characters in this book. Overall the book is very well written, the characters well developed, it was a good read. If this is a book you enjoyed and it touched you in some way than I suggest reading 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa. It's a modern day writing on how people of the African Continent are still being screwed by the first world. But it's not a downer, 28 Stories is incredible, and hopefully it will inspire people to help make a positive change in the world.
Date published: 2010-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from phenomenal. Will have an impact on all who read it! Even though I had heard great things about "The book of Negroes" It still took me a couple of years before I finally got myself a copy. As soon as I flipped open the first page, I was transfixed. And as cliché as this may sound, hooked from word one. As with all phenomenal reads, I found myself questioning what would have caused me to put off reading this truly outstanding novel. Whatever the reason may have been, I am truly grateful to Lawrence Hill. For publishing what I can only describe as being one of the best novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I feel changed, and Inspired by Aminata. Despite her fictitious being. There was and are, people/woman like her. I’m empowered by her strength and courage, and prepared to fight for what I want, and succeed. For if a "Negroe" child, captured, tortured, and sold like a fresh off the press newspaper, could make such an impact then why cant I? As with anything, some might not find this book to there liking. I have heard a few describe it as slow, and to drawn out ect. I however finished in two days, which I think speaks for itself!
Date published: 2010-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow this is the best book i have read in years!!!! I borrowed it from a friend... i didn't' think i could get through it... but... as it turned out.. I couldn't put the book down!!! this is the best book i have read in YEARS>>>>>> everybody should read it!!
Date published: 2010-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this Book I couldn't put this book down yet I didn't want it to end. How did Lawrence Hill get into Aminata Diallo's head and speak with such a compassionate woman's voice and with such female emotion? This story of entrapment and slavery of a young girl was shocking in its detail yet so believably real. I didn't want her to go home because I knew that "home" as she remembered it would no longer exist, and then what would there have been left to live for? I have made a list of all Lawrence Hill's other books and I'm off to get them and read them all. Thank you.
Date published: 2010-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Thrilling Novel! The Book Of Negroes is a thrilling story that takes you on a journey through Africa with a girl named Aminata. Lawrence Hill describes every little detail so vividly it's as if you are walking through the rugged streets of West Africa. Aminata tells of her story as a grown women reflecting on her pleasant and not so pleasant childhood memories and also going back to present times in London, England. Aminata tells of her pros and cons of being an African American woman. THANKS SO MUCH TO HEATHER FOR RECOMMENDING THIS TO ME!!! I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! :)
Date published: 2010-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Worthy Contribution Although this novel does not reach the heights some of the other slave narratives do, it nevertheless presents a heart-wrenching view of a slave journey, especially the capabilities of both human treachery and altruism. I recommend it to anyone and everyone, simply because it is a thought-provoking read.
Date published: 2010-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ***** (5 stars) Absolutely loved this book! Bought it for vacation and read it in 3 days! I wished it was another 500 pages.. loved the story, the characters and the writing, highly recommend it!
Date published: 2010-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite Book This book was absolutely the best book I have read to date. It moved me in so many ways. I couldn't put it down and I ended up finishing the whole book in 2 days. The main character will move you to tears and triumph over and over again throughout the book. I wanted to reach through the pages and embrace this woman. After finishing the book I wrote a letter to the author commending him on this fantastic book that I feel would make such an important addition to the Canadian high school curriculum. A must read!
Date published: 2010-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masterpiece!! The Book of Negroes is narrative art at its finest. I was extremely impressed by the historical and geographical depth and detail that Lawrence provided to create this convincing and gripping story. This is the breathtaking journey of a free African girl as she turns into a slave and a woman. Lawrence's vivid historical references of the free trade of slavery leave no trace to the imagination, as Aminata's story delivers the harrowing truth. Through her tragedy and suffering, Aminata rises above as a deeply courageous and heroic figure. Her character proves to be larger than life and she imbeds herself in your heart. Convincing in its detail, the story forces the reader to imagine the reality beyond the scars left by history. Not only does Lawrence provide wrenching suspense through his story line but his Aminata provides a tremendous sense of hope and inspiration as the main character. This sense of inspiration is just what makes her character so memorable. Aminata comes alive in the reader's heart and mind as an individual with immense passion, perseverance and determination. The Book of Negroes proves to be an utter masterpiece and literary triumph for author Lawrence Hill.
Date published: 2010-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Total Grasp of the Heart The book was loaned to me by a fellow teacher but upon finishing the book and had to buy it any, just to say I had it. It is the first book I recommed to people. The book takes you along on her horrifyig yet brave journey while at the same time teaching you history lessons and realities you feel embarassed at not already knowing...or at least for at times forgetting. You will fall in love with the main character and feel changed and stronger when you read this book.
Date published: 2010-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! I couldn't put the book down. A must read.
Date published: 2010-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great - Hands Down! Absolutely amazing book that will grab you from the first chapter and will not let you go until the last word. Loved the characters, loved the writing, loved the story, and loved the historical info that weaves it all together. I put off reading this because I thought it would be a hard read (b/c of the subject matter) but it wasn't at all. Yes there are details about some awful events in history, but the author doesn't linger on the gruesome details - just gives you enough to foster a good understanding of what this period in history was like and what people went through. Without a doubt one of the best books I have read.
Date published: 2010-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best and Worst Read Ever The was the best and worst book I have ever read! It was the best couldn't put it down, it was the worst because the story was heartbreaking, I wanted to close it so many times because it broke my heart, but it was such a page turner I could stop reading. Her journey was amazing, heart stopping, tragic, what a great book, it is a must read.
Date published: 2010-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This story was just fabulous, I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2010-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic A fantastic book.
Date published: 2010-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Historical Fiction. I thought that I would be upset by this tragic tale but instead I found myself feeling triumphant. Amazing tale and journey and it wraps up in a nice neat bow.
Date published: 2010-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it! I fell in love with this book. I was hooked from the very first page. Lawrence Hill is a brilliant writer. I've also read "Any known blood", which I also adored, and will be reading "Some great thing" real soon. Can't wait.
Date published: 2010-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought provoking... A very moving and thought provoking story that leaves the reader lingering on the details long after they've completed the book. Lawrence Hill speaks easily from the mind of his heroine, and successfully creates a character and story that grabs the reader and won't let go.
Date published: 2010-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read I could not put this book down and read it in less than 3 days. The words fail me to describe the emotions felt while reading this book. A great purchase, gift or read at a book club.
Date published: 2010-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I have never read anything that moved me so much, right to the end.
Date published: 2010-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Book I was waiting for I Loved this book. It had me from the first page, and not a lot of books do that. The storyline was very captivating and I finished this book in only two days. The only bad part was that it ended. This book will truly make you realize, and appreciate all the things in your life that you love.
Date published: 2010-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down!! I started this book on a Thursday and was finished by Sunday. What a fantastic story. Highly recommended!!
Date published: 2009-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! A wonderful book from beginning to end!
Date published: 2009-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow A splendid, stunning and heart-wrenching novel. This story pulls at every heart string, while intoxicating the reader. A brilliant work by Hill.
Date published: 2009-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Canadian Literature. The Book of Negroes is an amazing fictional account of the Slave trade in Africa, Europe and the America's. Hill's character Aminata is one of the most memorable heroines I have ever encountered in literature. I clearly see why it won Canada Reads. Bravo to Lawrence Hill for creating such a masterpiece of Canadian Literature.
Date published: 2009-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Moving, riveting, fascinating. Aminata Diallo is a character to inspire all women and men. And she is just one of the many memorable characters in this wonderful book about a brutal time in history. His storytelling brought to live 4 continents and the way the black nation was treated by the white race but also by their own people. Human nature at it's best and worst. Another book impossible to put down.
Date published: 2009-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful read! Loved this book -- the story in the person of a woman slave -- heroic, strong, administering to others who could not help herself -- her escapades from slavery to freedom -- I love a book with a "happy" ending!
Date published: 2009-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from this is a must read story storyline is absolutly captivating, must read for all canadian readers. Lawrence has done an awsome job on this easy read book. They story never dwindles it always keeps you wondering what is going to happen to the main character.
Date published: 2009-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it Hill did an outstanding job. I loved the main character and I was sad to be finished the book.
Date published: 2009-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great!! it was impossible to put down... every word read made me want to read more
Date published: 2009-10-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Deja Vu Hill is a competent storyteller, but I am less happy with the fact this book reads like "Roots Lite". You will have seen or read every element elsewhere; there is nothing original or fresh in the novel, save the preachy tie in to Canada's Black Loyalist history (via the historical Book of Negroes, which is practically incidental to the story). As no new light or significance is cast on the slave trade and slavery, I find the accolades the book garnered troubling: do we treat books about historical events we feel guilty about differently than other books? Is political correctness driving the applause? The story itself, following the life of an African woman enslaved in childhood, transported to America and the usual abuses, educated and sent off to Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone and finally England, has possibilities, but deus ex machina handling makes the events of her life too convenient, too studied. I wanted to like this book, but in the end its failure to expand on its own subject was a disappointment.
Date published: 2009-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Book of Hope "Sir Hastings presents me with a new quill and a glass inkpot decorated with swirling lines of indigo blue. I love the smoothness and the heft in my hand. I rub the surface but the indigo is buried deep in the glass. Englishmen do love to bury one thing so completely in another that the two can only be separated by force: peanuts in candy, indigo in glass, Africans in irons.” The sheer brilliance of Lawrence Hill’s writing cannot even begin to be summed up by this one quotation alone. The entire novel is renowned and transcendent, and truly one of the best female voices I’ve read in a long time. The story follows Aminata Diallo, a young Muslim woman born in Africa, who finds her world completely thrown into chaos when a group of men come into her village and sets her on the path to America. Where the country is the land of opportunities for white settlers, it is the country of damnation and hell for the Africans. As she grows older she learns from the people around her and fights to survive in the country that condemns her as the lowest of the human species. Through her struggles you feel hope, sense loss and see victories, and never once do you question the fact that the narration is larger than life. Her heroism sets forth an unforgettable epic into a history of which many people are ignorant or choose to ignore. Like the notable characters of Anna Karenina, Scarlett O’Hara, and Offred the handmaid, Aminata Diallo is timeless, relatable and authentic. Hill’s narration is preeminent within literature. Like Wally Lamb’s She Comes Undone, and Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, Hill was able to capture the essence of a woman and form a character that was nothing short of real. The narration was so believable, I forgot the novel was written by a man. The character was completely and utterly genuine. Hill also didn’t glorify Canada as do many novels about slavery; in fact it showed Canada as being as bad as the Americans. Canadians were racist towards those who managed to escape from slavery and just because the slaves were free, doesn’t mean they were respected. I enjoyed every syllable of this novel. It is truly a masterpiece of historical fiction and places Hill among the great storytellers like Edward P. Jones, Margaret Attwood and Diana Gabaldon. I recommend this book to everyone who asks me “what book should I read?” which is a question I get often. Don’t miss out, trust me, you’ll love The Book of Negroes.
Date published: 2009-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A captivating read The main character endured so much sadness and hardship yet never lost hope of her dream. You will not want to put this book down.
Date published: 2009-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from i LOVED IT! This was my 'summer holiday' read. I'd seen it out on the best seller's list and the Governor General's List. What clinched me to buy it was that my son and I went to visit the National Archives in Ottawa. We live just outside Ottawa in rural Dunrobin, and decided to check out the Archives as part of our day in town. While there the receptionist was explaining all the things you could do there and she happened to mention that Lawrence Hill, the author of the "Book of Negroes" had spent a lot of time at the National Archives researching his book. I'm into 'local' food and I thought this would be a cool 'local' read. The fact that it had a 'Canadian' tie was big for me. I loved and respected the main character. I passed it on to my Husband and son. It was the best book I've read in a long time.
Date published: 2009-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfection Wow, this book restored my love of reading, I lost the will to read for awhile. This book is a tremendous piece of literature, and very well researched as well. I was shocked to learn that Canada and England played such a brutal role in slavery, I knew that the States had a very nasty role in things but I had no idea that England was involved in the horrifying inhumanity of the slave trade. I also had a hard time accepting that this was fictional and written by a man, it is so intimate and personal, and captured a woman's point of view very well. Also, the main character, Aminata, her strength and determination and courage was inspiring and she was so well written I forgot she was fictional every time I picked up the book. This book is perfection. *It does get really graphic though, but without it, the book wouldn't mean nearly as much.
Date published: 2009-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "A truely good read" A well written novel, a truly enjoyable read. A view into the world of slavery, courage and determination.....
Date published: 2009-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutley Amazing! Lawrence Hill is a wonder "story teller". Buy this book and you won't be able to put it down, in fact you don't want it to end. Best book I have read in a long time!
Date published: 2009-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read This book took so many turns and your really feel for the lead character as she travels through her challenging life. She is a real inspiration for what a single person can do, especially from where she came from.
Date published: 2009-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Read This book is one you can't put down. Between shock, horror, and fascination as you join Aminata on her journey. Lawrence Hill has a definate gift for loft in his stories despite its heavy content. His descriptions of a world we can't understand is really incredible. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Date published: 2009-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A story that opens your eyes, and touches your heart. An amazing book that has already gathered numerous of favourable reviews. Through the character of Aminata Diallo, the horrid history of slave trade from Africa was vividly revealed, encouraging us on how far we have come, and reminding us on how much more we still have to do in mutual respect and equality. The Book of Negroes is a beautiful story that will open your eyes, and touch your heart.
Date published: 2009-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hard to Put Down I started reading this while on vacation at the cottage and I couldn't put it down. I felt as if I was seeing through the main characters eyes and experiencing her hardships. As a mother my heart went out to her when she was a young child and later on when she became a mother herself. I am amazed that the author, being a man, could capture so profoundly the feelings of a female as she endures so many hardships from a young innocent child to an experienced women. I recommend this book whole heartily; I thank Lawrence Hill for writing it and I am looking forward to reading more from this very talented author.
Date published: 2009-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hmmm! What a sad story... Aminata Diallo will not leave my memory anytime soon. What she endured made me ache for the way humans have treated humans in history ~ it sickened me and broke my heart... When her 3 year old daughter was... well, let's just say, I had nightmares that night after reading it and gave my own 3 year old baby girl an extra hug! A powerful book ~ but my only criticism is that it was predictable. Heard this story before ~ knew where it was going... But a great read overall.
Date published: 2009-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting, educational, and entertaining I received this book as a gift, and am so glad that I did. The Book of Negroes is not necessarily a story I would typically pick up, but I found it to be an incredible story, a real page-turner, and very easy to read. Despite being fiction, it is obvious that the author has done his research, and I came away knowing a lot more about the slave trade and the events of that era that I previously did not know. Although Aminata faced unspeakable hardships, at times it felt that things worked out a little too perfectly, and that her treatment by others was better than the average, making for an almost *too* perfect story. Nonetheless, it kept me gripped, and I was able to read it in no time!
Date published: 2009-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! Amazing read. Historically accurate and hard to put down. The strength of the main character will have you rooting for her.
Date published: 2009-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great History! I know this book is a work of fiction, but there is a lot of truth in what happened and it just an amazing story. It is also very sad about how much the main character had to go through. The writing thoughout the book is very beautiful and discriptive. It is strange to think about how far we have come in some respects, and in others, how similar we still are!! Great read, and would recommend to all!
Date published: 2009-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Blew me away. Read it. Amazing book! I also really appreciate the diligent effort of the author. Very well done.
Date published: 2009-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A very moving, heart-wrenching story I cannot put this book down. The story is well-written, heartbreaking at times, and I find myself hoping for Aminata to get through her ordeals. The story reminds me very much of the movie Amistad, and also has elements of Alex Haley's Roots, but a great story nonetheless.
Date published: 2009-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read. Everything about this book is wonderful. I love the historic facts in it. The story itself is fantastic. I think everyone will enjoy this.
Date published: 2009-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Book of Negroes The Book of Negroes is written from the point of view of an African girl, and follows her from a young age through the many stages of her life. I have a habit of reading in bed, and although I usually don't read too many pages of any book before I find myself falling asleep, this was much different. I finished the book in one week. I hated to turn off the light every night, as I wanted to know what was coming next. The woman who ended up writing in the Book of Negroes experiences pain, fear, anger, humiliation and hope, and they are entwined through the story as she moves from continent to continent and from one phase of her life to the next. This book is has been chosen as the book for One Book/One Community in Waterloo Region. It pulls the reader into the story and never lets go until the end. It is a worthy choice!
Date published: 2009-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read This was our book club choice and everyone enjoyed it. We did think there were a few too many lucky circumstances she stumbled into and one member objected to the bending of history with this particular subject. It is a wonderful discussion choice for a book club as it led us down many roads. Would recommend
Date published: 2009-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could not put this down! This was an absolutely beautiful book and should not be missed by anyone. Fully recommend this - and I never write reviews but this book inspired me to do so. Go and get it - you won't be able to put it down. Absolutely wonderful!
Date published: 2009-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbeleivable fiction!!! You MUST read this book! A captivating story of a woman negro who was taken to be a slave abroad, the struggles, the humiliations, the colourful people she meets and her success and freedom she lost and gained throughout her life. I can't beleive this is fiction!
Date published: 2009-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous I cant say enough abaout this book. The story is riveting and I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2009-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This was an excellent story I felt very swept along in this story. The main character has such a strong voice and tells her life very well. I found myself empathising with her situation and wanting to know more and more of her life. Sometimes I felt like the details were missing, but it felt like how it would if someone sat down and started telling you their life. They wouldn't necessarily remember everything, just the larger events. Things that stood out for them personally. I felt this way with Meena. I mean, I could understand when it seemed as though she wasn't giving us all the information or all the facts of her life. Because she was telling this story as an old woman, looking back and trying to recall. The fact that she does recall so much is lovely. I don't feel cheated. I can see now why this book won the CBC Canada Reads for 2009. It was much deserved.
Date published: 2009-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I recommend this book This is a very well written Novel based on historical events. I had not known about the Nova Scotians who started the new settlement of Sierra Leone in Africa. This book is entertaining, as well as upsetting when one reads about what the slaves had to endure.
Date published: 2009-06-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from disappointed Great subject matter, and yet written so impatiently (or was it talent that was so painfully missing?), with ABSOLUTELY NO DEBTH, awfully one-dimensional... Reads like a picture book...
Date published: 2009-06-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Underwhelming I so looked forward to reading this novel but was disappointed by several unrealistic moments. There were too many coincidences for my liking, making it less plausible as an historical novel.
Date published: 2009-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful and knowledgeble I loved this book - I have about 50 pages left to read and I wish that I had another 300. I could not put it down. I needed a book like that . Now I have to look for another book that will captivate me as this one did! Thank You for recommending it.
Date published: 2009-05-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from a fascinating story...that I didn't love Everyone has been talking about Lawrence Hill’s novel The Book of Negroes for the past few months. When I worked at Indigo, it flew off the shelf; everyone wanted to read it. It’s one of those books – topical, controversial, well-written, award-winning and with a central character that it is impossible not to admire. And I did admire her, but I didn’t love this book. I finished The Book of Negroes a few days ago and I’ve been trying to figure out what it was exactly that failed to inspire me to talk about it in absolutely glowing terms. I am a child of the 70s. By that I mean, I was a teenager when Roots hit the small screen. Every night for however many nights that mini-series was on the tube, my family and I would gather around the TV, mesmerized and horrified by Kunta Kinte’s story. I haven’t seen it since, so I have no idea whether or not it holds up, but that story devastated me and made me ashamed, for the first time in my life, to be white. The Book of Negroes failed to reach me on some level. Does that mean in the years since I’ve seen Roots I’ve just gradually become desensitized? God, I hope not. Aminata Diallo, born in Bayo, West Africa, in 1745, is captured by slave traders when she is just eleven. We have barely settled into the rhythm of her life as a ‘free-born Muslim’ adored by her parents, before they are killed and she is captured. What follows is her life story. No question, it makes for fascinating, accessible and easy reading. But there was something missing for me, some emotional centre. Aminita reaches America after a long, brutal journey across the ocean. She is sold and quickly learns a new language and a new way of life. It is impossible not to admire her: she’s smart and resilient and tough. She has to be as she endures one tragedy after another. And perhaps this is where I feel let down by the book: despite knowing Aminita’s story, I never felt like I knew her. In telling the story of her life, she relays the facts, all but stripping the emotion from them. The slightly unbelievable denouement, therefore, had little impact on me. Should you read this book? Absolutely. Is it worthy of all the praise? Yes, of course it is, because we should always be reminded that the struggle for equality is ongoing, that people still suffer because of their race or religious beliefs. Let’s face it, the world hasn’t really come all that far since Aminita’s day. There’s a part of me that feels slightly guilty that I didn’t love it. But I am glad I read it.
Date published: 2009-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Marvellous! One of the best books I have read in a long time. I loved it!
Date published: 2009-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible My first review of a book ever but I found this book incredible, amazing, wonderful and full of every emotion known to mankind.
Date published: 2009-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Many lives of Aminata Diallo This is the story of the lives of Aminata Diallo. She is a free girl who lives in the early 19Th century near Sego in Africa before being abducted by other Africans and sold into slavery. - She spends many years in South Carolina as a slave, first on an indigo plantation and then as an assistant to a Jewish business man. When in New York she runs away from him and begins afresh as a free woman amongst other blacks and British Military. - After the War she is transported to another new life in Nova Scotia along with hundreds of other British Loyalists. Life there is better than slavery, but it does not live up to the promises of the British. - After decades of exile from Africa, the Sierra Leone Company offers to help re-settle the landless black Loyalists onto African soil. Aminata does try to return to the village of her birth but is challenged at every step, by distance (a three month walk inland), age and health and by those who would try and re-enslave her. Realizing that she can't turn the clocks back 60 years and regain her first life, she travels to England to lend her story and her voice to the cause to stop the slave trade. - I remembered when I lived in the Caribbean and studied the Slave Trade in 4Th Form. The teacher made it very clear to the two white girls in the class that they were personally to blame for the atrocities that happened more than 100 years earlier. Mr. Hill never made me feel as though he was assigning blame. He presented a well balanced account of who was involved at the various times and how they benefitted. Aminata is not portrayed as a vengeance seeking woman, though she had every right to be, but rather as a woman who has a goal (re-united with her husband, find her daughter and return to the village of her birth)and must survive in order to achieve it. She decided very early that anger wasn't going to get her anywhere but hurt or dead. - I'm glad that we learned much of Aminata's early life. She lived in a vibrant community with a rich history, with a loving family, an educated father and a religion that held the promise of a wealth of knowledge to come. I have heard arguments that the slavers were saving the blacks from their heathen existence. That has always bothered me that one group of people can dismiss the accomplishments and lifestyle of another just because it is different from their own. - I liked this book. Not only is it the story of a strong girl/woman who accomplishes what she sets out to do, but a humanized, historical account of a dark era in North American history. - This book was selected for the 'One Book One Community' read for Waterloo Region (where I live). It should provide lots of opportunity for discussion.
Date published: 2009-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't Put it Down I read this book while I was in West Africa (Ghana). It was a great book to educate me on the slave trade which had taken place right where I was living. It took me two days to read, and then I read it again - I loved it so much!
Date published: 2009-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Marvelous book! Lawrence Hill grabs you with his type of writing from the minute you pick up one of his books. I live in the states and the book was not available so I ordered from you in Canada - well worth it!! Wonderful story line - kept your attention from beginning to end. Hope Mr. Hill keeps putting his books out there!!
Date published: 2009-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book! I loved this book, a great read, couldn't put down!!
Date published: 2009-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! A very nice book!
Date published: 2009-04-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Bravo! Excellent read.....I think it would be more plausible if Mr. Hill wrote in the first person, speaking as a male. It is difficult to read about how a man discribes his menustration etc., other than that it was excellent.
Date published: 2009-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Attention Grabbing! What a revealing work! For one who believed I had some understanding of the historical background of the slave trade, this was truly eye-opening. A first person account of the horrors a captive lived through cut to the real truth of this despicable time in humankinds history. And to think that such conditions still exist in some parts of the world! Thank goodness for the redemptive ending of this work.....
Date published: 2009-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A breathtaking read! By far, the absolute best book I have EVER read. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring and captivating. If you do not read this book, you are really missing out. Just do it, you will pray for the book not to end.
Date published: 2009-04-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Can't say I loved it Everyone's ranting and raving, why? The book is ok, but I've read many books that are way better than this one. I think I just didn't like the style of writing and the story just didn't grip me. Looks like I'm in the minority which I find strange...
Date published: 2009-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!! This novel made me feel like I was there right along with the main character. The things Aminata survived are beyond imagination and comprehension at times, but her fighting spirit is what makes this book so real. I laughed and cried over and over again. This book is amazing!!
Date published: 2009-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic I read a lot of books, but this has to top the list of can't put downs in a long time. The author recreates the feeling of fear, desolation, yet determination in this young girl as she suffers through all the travels. Even after losing her children, she still fights for what she believes is her goal, she will not give up.
Date published: 2009-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from utterly stunning When my dad bought this book for me i did not really expect to like it. i heard that it had won awards but i'm not into history type books and figured it would take me a while to get into it. well i was proven wrong about a hundred times while reading this book. it was captivating from the first page, it was heart wrenching, well written, good strong plot, the characters are enjoyable and you even become attached to the main character. I highly recommend this book too ANY ONE!!!! this book will become a great classic one day and i think everyone should read this book. it was a good mix of fiction and fact that kept you turning pages and completely enthralled in this novel. Lawrence Hill is an amazing writer and i thank him for this book
Date published: 2009-04-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing! Our book club picked this book for our April read. Not sure what all the hype is about???? Is not a book I would place in my top 100 ever read! Very disappointed as I expected a real gem of story - but it fails...
Date published: 2009-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating I loved this book, reminded me of Roots. Engrossing story, read it in just a few days. Left me wanting more.
Date published: 2009-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent book! Excellent book! It's been a long time since I've become this engrossed in a book where I can't put it down and stay up late too many nights in a row. Fantastic writing, even though I can't imagine most of the horrors the characters went through, the writing makes you feel like you relate to the characters. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good read.
Date published: 2009-04-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Slavery in Canada I truly enjoyed this book, and was particularly interested in the reference to the arrival of slaves in Nova Scotia. This story is a reminder of the ravages of slavery. So much cruelty, so many broken promises. Loved the heroine.
Date published: 2009-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow. Wow...I don't know what else to say about this book. I love a novel that although is a work of fiction, really captures the reality of an era. I was completely engrossed in this book...such sadness, and cruelty in the world. Definitely worth reading
Date published: 2009-04-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Okay I found the history behind this book very interesting but I had to push myself to get through the novel itself. The writing is way too obvious and not compelling. This is an important book to read if you want to learn about the history of slavery but I expected a much richer experience based on the reviews I had read.
Date published: 2009-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping! I thought before I started the first sentence this would take me a long time to read. I read the first sentence and I finished the book in record time. It was too good to put down for long.
Date published: 2009-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An unforgettable character... Two words: Aminata Diallo. It's not every day one comes across a character so lucid, so inviolable, so shocking as the one Lawrence Hill has given us. Aminata's infallible determination will keep you hooked til the very end.
Date published: 2009-03-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Definitely a good read. Wouldn't say it was great but i enjoyed it. Interesting story.
Date published: 2009-02-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Hard to get through I am the type of person that no matter what I have to finish a book and that is all I can say about this book is that I finsihed it.
Date published: 2009-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic, Realistic I received this book as a birthday gift and I have recommended it to everyone. The writing was so vivid and striking. I have not laughed and cried at the same time in years. I am trying to get my hands on anything that Lawrence writes because I just can't get enough. This should be requried reading in every high school in Canada. The fiction and non-fiction remind us of the suffering of a large part of the world in the past but provides hope for the future if we only remember not to repeat the mistakes of the past. An Incredible book!!
Date published: 2009-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent Novel Exquisitely written novel! Make sure you can dedicate ample time to devour this book - you won't be able to put it down. Bravo Mr Hill, look forward to more of your books.
Date published: 2009-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent tale of hope and horrors. The Book of Negroes is an outstanding story of one woman's journey from freedom, to slavery, and back to freedom. It explores the perseverance of the human heart and the evil that lurks deep in the human soul. It demonstrates that both good and evil lurk inside both white and black. Told through the voice of Aminata Diallo, or Meena Dee, as she becomes known to the Western world, the story is rich in culture, history and language. A beautiful, yet haunting, story.
Date published: 2009-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing story of courage and strength! I just finished reading this book and I'm not ready for the tale to end! Aminata Diallo is an unique character with the heart of a warrior.
Date published: 2009-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful This story is absolutely wonderful and kept me spellbound through its entirety. I found I became one with Meena and the journey became personal. Just loved it and will read it a second time.
Date published: 2009-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful but heartbreaking story! I could not put this book down!!! It was absolutely amazing, yet very heartbreaking. The story of Aminata's life as a slave is remarkable and so sad. The book is well written and makes you feel the pain that this poor woman went through. One of the best books I have ever read!!!!!
Date published: 2009-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Page Turner!!! This book was tragic on every page but you keep turning as fast as you can read because of the underlying hope that the main character carries with her.
Date published: 2008-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal account of history and human strength I couldn't put this book down. It was one where the character Aminata was alive in your mind and I was sorry to see it end. I am so proud that Lawrence Hill is a Canadian author. The historical background of the slave trade and the account of their difficult lives are eye-opening. His manner of writing is eloquent. A must read and reread.
Date published: 2008-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding This is one of those books you can't stop reading--you want to find out what happens but, at the same time, you know you'll be sorry when it's over. I loved the main character--her strength and determination to survive in spite of it all. Plus, I learned a lot--some information that I'm not too proud of as a Canadian. It really was a wonderful read.
Date published: 2008-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely amazing! The best book I have ever read. Very emotional and powerful. I couldn't put this book down! I didn't want it to end and felt sad that it did. Can't find a book that tops this one. Loved the character and everything about her. She made me laugh and cry all at once. Bravo to Lawrence Hill.
Date published: 2008-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Triumph for Canadian Literature I absolutely loved this book. It was so vivid, and I really connected to the characters. What I liked about this book the most, however, was that it was Canadian. I find that Canadian literature, entertainment, elections (basically everything Canadian) gets downplayed by the US but here was a fresh, outstandingly riveting and wonderful novel by a Canadian. A was the best book I have read in a long time. And I read a lot.
Date published: 2008-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Incredible! An incredible book which keep you enthralled through the entire story.
Date published: 2008-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A remarkable life Deals with unthinkable cruelty and hardship, but is a novel about hope, courage, and the good in the human heart. A wonderful character.
Date published: 2008-10-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Marvellous Canadian Fiction At times I found this book difficult to read because although it is a work of fiction you can’t help but to realize that the broad spectrum of events are in fact real. It tells the story of one woman who never loses sight of her dreams even when faced with unimaginable adversities. She is a woman of insurmountable strength and her journey is remarkable. Throughout the book there are things that restores her faith, and the readers faith, in the human race, reminding us that there are still good people out there. Actually I think everyone should read this novel because as a story of historical fiction it can open people’s eyes as to what was happening in the world during the dark days of the slave trade, while at the same time reinforcing the fact that we are all the same, people just perusing our dreams. I highly recommend this book, it is one that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.
Date published: 2008-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenominal I loved this book. Once I started to read it I could not put it down. I found the main character Aminato Diallo captivating, and the story of her life and survival touched my heart. I was actually feeling quite bereft when the book ended. I haven't been able to find another yet that captures my interest as much as this one did. I am going to recommend this for our book club - I am positive it will bring about a very lengthy and interesting discussion.
Date published: 2008-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating Published in the USA under the title “Someone Knows My Name” In 1745, Aminata Diallo was a precocious 11 year old living with her doting family in Mali. One day on her way home from helping her mother she was abducted by African slavers. After a harrowing voyage aboard a slave ship to America, Aminata is sold to an indigo plantation on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Aminita is blessed with the love and understanding of many languages and her ability to read and write and keep the master’s books prove to be a great advantage. Escaping from her owner, these skills allow her to support herself in New York working for the British during the Revolutionary War. This service allowed her to accompany the Loyalists to Nova Scotia and temporarily settle there with others trying to survive the hideous levels of poverty and discrimination. From there, she eventually makes her way back to Sierra Leone and on to London. Although this book is a fiction based on events it is nevertheless a captivating read and an eye opener into a part of history that I knew little about. The story is very engaging; you are transported through time from a tribal African village to the manor houses of London. As for Aminita her narration is dominated by her voice and spirit, she is a strong character one who is not afraid to face a world hostile to her colour and sex. The novel highlights the issues of equality and human rights and the never ending struggle to obtain them. Mr Hill is a master story teller, no surprise “The Book of Negroes” is an award winner.
Date published: 2008-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! Meena Dee is a character who will be remembered for all time. This is a novel that everyone should read. It is so much more than a story about slavery, but rather a story of inspiration and humanity.
Date published: 2008-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Awe-Inspiring Story This book tells the story of the life of Aminata Diallo, born in Bayo, West Africa, in 1745 who at the age of 11 is captured and sold into slavery. Detailing her struggles as a slave on a South Carolina plantation and her efforts to regain her freedom, the story is both harrowing and awe inspiring.
Date published: 2008-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Every page kept you going forward This is one of the most profound books I have ever read. It is clearly one that will last the ages. It's amazing!
Date published: 2008-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from must read When I was reading this book it read like a memoir. Lawrence Hill really captured the life of Aminata. The character of Aminata went deep into my soul and I carry the story with me and hope that this will never be forgotten. The only way the slaves could of survived their horrible lives was with courage and strength from deep within. They had quailities we should honor and admire and never forget.
Date published: 2008-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Uplifting and Heartbreaking I have just finished reading The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill. It's a wonderful book. It is not dissimilar from other historical fiction books about slavery. What makes this one of the better ones is that the story follows the life of a Aminata from the moment she is captured until her death. By covering all those years of life, the story and the character of Aminata is enriched like no other character in similar works. You don't learn to like this character, you learn to love her because she is a woman who embodies strength and she isn't quiet about it. I can't wait to read it again.
Date published: 2008-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth the read This book was recommended to me, I bought it and started to read and I couldn't put it down. It is based on a slave named Aminita "meena" her life taken from African as an 11 year old and her voyage over the rough seas to America where she goes through so many obsticals. I found this book fascinating I loved every inch of it. It reminded me of Roots which I read a long time ago, but from a females eyes, Lawrence Hill has created a master piece as far as I am concerned. i LOVED IT!! From beginning to end.
Date published: 2008-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic I really enjoyed this book. Meena is stolen from her home land and sold into slavery in the New World. Over the years she learns much, and loses more. Through it all her spirit keeps her alive and keeps you interested in what could otherwise been a depressing read. Hill manages to keep the story believable and yet not horrifically depressing. Great read
Date published: 2008-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Amazing Book - This should be the book all Canada reads! I loved this book and am so glad it won the Commonwealth Prize. It is the story of Aminata - an African girl who is the daughter of a jewellry maker and a baby catcher. Coming home from catching a baby with her mother, they get attacked and kidnapped. Her mother and father both die, and Aminata starts the 3 month walk to the port without any family. It is her story of perservance and brains and strength and how she survives the march and the ocean voyage. How she survives and indigo plantation in Carolina and more hardships than one can imagine. I loved this book. At times it was hard, but you feel emotionally connected to this girl right from the beginning. It is a fabulous book that I highly recommend!
Date published: 2008-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best I've read This was one of the best books I've read. The main character is a very strong woman. As well, I liked the fact that that "Meena" was able to read better than most. I liked the fact that there was historical references peppered throughout the book. Very Good Read hard to put down
Date published: 2008-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An AMAZING Book!!!! The author Lawrence Hill, was long-listed for the Giller award, so you would assume this would be atleast well written and your assumption would be correct. This book is about a slave girl who went from Africa, to the States then to Nova Scotia and eventually back to Africa. One would think that a book about slavery would be a hard read or perhaps a really negative one, but this book is a strong individual preservering throughout her life and overcoming a horrible situation with great strength.
Date published: 2008-01-29

From the Author

Interview with Lawrence HillExcerpted from the forthcoming P.S. material in the Perennial edition of his bestselling novel, The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill was kind enough to answer a few questions about his inspiration for the book and what it was like to write from a woman's perspective. HarperPerennial: When did you first come across the ledger called the Book of Negroes, and did you know immediately that you would write about it? Lawrence Hill: I first heard about the Book of Negroes in 1980 when I read The Black Loyalists, a scholarly book by Canadian historian James Walker. Even before I wrote my first novel, Some Great Thing, which was published in 1992, I knew that one day I would write the fictional story of a woman who had to have her name entered into the Book of Negroes. It wasn't until I began to research and write the novel in 2002, however, that I examined reproductions of the actual ledger. The research and writing took about five years.HarperPerennial: How did you know when you'd researched "enough"? Did you ever feel overwhelmed by the weight of the history you were trying to capture in the novel? Lawrence Hill: Completely. I had to assimilate and then play with the history in so many locations-Mali, the South Carolina sea islands, Charleston, Manhattan, Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone, and London. It felt as though I was writing several novels in one.Research is captivating, but it also serves itself up as the quintessential avoidance strategy. "How did your work go on the novel today?" "Fine, I spent eight hours in the University of Toronto library." Eventually, you have to put down all the books and start mining your own soul for the story that waits within. The novel was more far-reaching in its first drafts. I chose to pare it back, whittling out hundreds of pages as I strove to make the story more manageable and engaging for the reader.HarperPerennial: What was your most surprising finding? Lawrence Hill: The first discovery I made remains the most striking. In 1792, twelve hundred Black Loyalists set out in a flotilla of fifteen ships to sail from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Freetown, Sierra Leone. A number of the adults on board were not just travelling to Africa-it turns out that they had been born on that continent, so they were literally travelling back to Africa. This back-to-Africa exodus took place more than a century before the famed Jamaican Marcus Garvey urged blacks in the Diaspora to return to the motherland. It took place decades before former American slaves founded Liberia. The first massive back-to-Africa exodus in world history set off from the shores of Halifax, but to date, few Canadians know it. HarperPerennial: Do you find that Canadians are surprised, or even unwilling to accept, that our history involves poor treatment of the Black Loyalists?Lawrence Hill: Canadians have had little exposure to aspects of the black experience that-unlike, say, the Underground Railroad-reflect badly on our country and history. Although they saved the Black Loyalists in New York, the British betrayed them in Nova Scotia. In the early and mid-1780s in communities such as Shelburne and Birchtown, Nova Scotia, blacks faced outright segregation, were forced to work for wages inferior to those earned by whites for the same work, were kept (in many instances) in slavery or as indentured servants, were largely denied the farming land that they had been promised in exchange for serving the British during the Revolutionary War, and were attacked physically during Canada's first anti-black race riot. It is a disgraceful time in Canadian history, and-outside academic circles and certain black communities-Canadians have largely avoided discussing the matter. I didn't write The Book of Negroes to wag a finger or to apportion blame. I wrote it because it is an astonishing and revealing story that readers deserve to know. It forms but a small piece of the history dramatized in The Book of Negroes. I carved out this work of fiction to celebrate one woman's journey and to chart her miraculous survival, both physical and emotional. HarperPerennial: Why did you choose to make your central character a woman? And do you find it a challenge to write scenes, such as the birthing one, from her perspective?Lawrence Hill: The Book of Negroes is a woman's story and it was from the moment of conception. As a dramatist, I locate stories in the lives of the people who have the most to lose. Her own role as a mother is at risk in this story, yet Aminata has to do what she must to survive, and carry on catching other women's babies. On one hand, it was an immense challenge to write the life story of an African woman in the 1700s. On the other hand, it was liberating and riveting to create a character that I could never be. I have always felt more comfortable writing about people who bear no resemblance to me. I find the texture of her life fascinating. In the novel, one African who is stolen from her homeland becomes bitter to the point of turning murderous. Another African is so traumatized by the dislocation of slavery that he loses the ability to speak. Aminata somehow manages to keep going and to do so with love in her heart. This is what interests me most about her character. She can't stop all the evil in the world, but she will not stoop to it.

Read from the Book

Lawrence HillThe Book of NegroesExcerpt And now I am old{London, 1802}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 dog's. People assume that just because you don't stand as straight as a sapling, you're 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 she'll 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 or shut their eyes and simply willed their lives to end. In the earliest days, when I was free and knew nothing other, I used to sneak outside our walled compound, climb straight up the acacia tree while balancing Father's Qur'an on my head, sit way out on a branch and wonder how I might one day unlock all the mysteries contained in the book. Feet swinging beneath me, I would put down the book – the only one I had ever seen in Bayo – and look out at the patchwork of mud walls and thatched coverings. People were always on the move. Women carrying water from the river, men working iron in the fires, boys returning triumphant from the forest with snared porcupines. It's a lot of work, extracting meat from a porcupine, but if they had no other pressing chores, they would do it anyway, removing the quills, skinning the animal, slicing out the innards, practising with their sharp knives on the pathetic little carcass. In those days, I felt free and happy, and the very idea of safety never intruded on my thoughts.I have escaped violent endings even as they have surrounded me. But I never had the privilege of holding onto my children, living with them, raising them the way my own parents raised me for ten or eleven years, until all of our lives were torn asunder. I never managed to keep my own children long, which explains why they are not here with me now, making my meals, adding straw to my bedding, bringing me a cape to hold off the cold, sitting with me by the fire with the knowledge that they emerged from my loins and that our shared moments had grown like corn stalks in damp soil. Others take care of me now. And that's a fine thing. But it's not the same as having one's own flesh and blood to cradle one toward the grave. I long to hold my own children, and their children if they exist, and I miss them the way I'd miss limbs from my own body.They have me exceedingly busy here in London. They say I am to meet King George. About me, I have a clutch of abolitionists – big-whiskered, wide-bellied, bald-headed men boycotting sugar but smelling of tobacco and burning candle after candle as they plot deep into the night. The abolitionists say they have brought me to England to help them change the course of history. Well. We shall see about that. But if I have lived this long, it must be for a reason. From The Book of Negroes. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Copyright © 2007 by Lawrence Hill. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

From Our Editors

Published as as Someone Knows My Name in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.