Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
If you did not already know, I love historical fiction. Love it.
I picked up this book a while ago and could not put it down.
“In this new land, I was an African. In this new land, I had a different name, given by someone who did not even know me. A new name for the second life of a girl who survived the great river crossing.”
The first chapter begins with Aminata Diallo telling her story as an elderly woman in London where she is assisting the abolitionists in their quest to end slavery. The rest of the book focuses on Aminata’s kidnapping from Africa where she is forced into slavery in the South. And it so it goes back and forth with Aminata reliving the story through her memories.
Lawrence Hill has a gift for storytelling because every time I picked up the book I really thought I transported back into the 1700′s. A couple times, I looked up from the book, surprised that I was on a subway car surrounded by strangers.
“If only I had had Georgia’s birthing oil, it wouldn’t have hurt so much. But there was no oil, and the pain was terrible as he plunged deep inside my body where nobody belonged but me…His breath quickened, he gave out a wild squeal and he was finished. When he slid out of me, I felt like everything inside of me was draining out.”
I have read many historical fiction books on slavery and Someone Knows My Name left nothing to the imagination. From Aminata getting her period while journeying through Africa to being raped by a “man of God”, the author spared no emotional punches.
I loved every minute of it.
Someone Knows My Name is an emotional rollercoaster through the horrors of our own history. While many portions of the story are fabricated, just as many parts are true. An actual Book of Negroes exists that recorded all of the slaves that served under the British during the American Revolutionary War and traveled to various British colonies in an effort to be free.
Read the book for the history or just for the great story. You will not regret it.
Additional suggested reading: Lalita Tademy’s Cane River.