Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Aminata Diallo lives with her parents in Bayo, a village in what will become Mali. Her father is a jeweler and owns the only book in the village, a Qur’an. Her mother is a midwife and takes Aminata with her to deliveries in nearby villages and teaches her to assist. One day, when Aminata is 11, they are abducted, and Aminata finds herself forced to walk for three months to the sea. Few children in the 1750s survive the Middle Passage to the American colonies and slavery, but Aminata, now Meena, does, and lives on an indigo plantation near the coast of South Carolina. Smart and good with languages, she learns to read English and delivers babies. Meena also falls in love with Chekura, a boy she met on the journey in Africa. They are often separated, but start a family. Incredibly, Meena ends up in New York, Nova Scotia, the new colony of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and eventually in London, where she speaks to abolitionists about the the truth of slavery. Despite tragedy and malaria, Meena carries on, always a resilient survivor, and finds happiness in the end. We discussed this book at the library recently, and everyone thought the book well worth reading and discussing. Some of us wanted more resolution for Aminata, but found her story, while incredible, quite memorable. The author was inspired by the Book of Negroes, a record of 3,000 black Loyalists who were promised land in Nova Scotia by the British.