[Review] Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Author: Lawrence Hill
Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company November 2008, paperback edition
Genre: Historical Fiction, slavery, 1700's, 1800s, Early American History, England, Africa, African American History, Abolitionism Movement.
Rating: 5 Stars
February is Black History Month; however, I did not plan to read Someone Knows My Name in February, things just worked out this way. Someone Knows My Name, has been in my TBR pile, and has been whispering-read me.
In the first chapter, an elderly black woman named Meena, begins sharing her story. She is anxious to write her memories down on paper for a record of her life. She is an articulate person. A woman of purpose, knowledge, and wisdom. She has lived one physical life, but has experienced many events. Meena's birth name is Aminata Diallo. She was born in 1745, in Bayo, West Africa. At age eleven she is abducted by slave-traders. An arduous march to the West African coast takes her to another group of traders who brand her. The branding sets her apart as being owned by a slave-master. The sea voyage claims the life of many slaves and men who work aboard the ship. Meena, spends several years at St. Helena Island, South Carolina, sometimes referred to as the Low Country. In mid-life she escapes, and becomes involved with a group of slaves living in Nova Scotia, Canada. English men who are involved in the abolitionism of slavery ask her to help them.
I've read several books on slavery and the Abolitionism Movement. A few of the books I've read are:
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Harriet Tubman The Road To Freedom by Catherine Clinton, Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce by John Piper, William Wilberforce Greatest Works. Someone Knows My Name, stands apart from them (even though it is fiction) as a diamond. People notice diamonds, but they also cut. Someone Knows My Name, is a story which is memorable and heart-wrenching.
There are several reasons why I give this book 5 Stars for excellent.
1. The story begins with the end. What do I mean? Meena, is at the end of her life. She reflects on all her experiences through the lens of wisdom, age, and acceptance. She is acceptant of her age and its limitations, she is acceptant that she will not live much longer. She is not acceptant of slavery. Her final time on earth is spent in speaking out against slavery through the telling of her life story, and in writing down her life story.
2. Someone Knows My Name, captures the events of: abduction, abuse, overland journey, sea travel, drowning, branding, fear of disease, starvation, despair, separation from family, slaves born in America versus those born in Africa, search for family, rape, Revolutionary War, and the Abolitionism Movement to end slavery.
3. Through the characters, the evil which men do to another human is displayed in horror. It is not something I can understand, nor do I want to understand; the enslavement and torture of another human is Satanic.
4. Well-known men who were apart of the Abolitionism Movement in England are included in the story.
5. If there is one book to read in this genre, this is the book. I believe it is a must read for high school.