The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill


A book about sacrificing dreams for a bigger purpose.


This book is about the life of Aminata Diallo. The book follows her life from a child in the African Village of Bayo, how she was snatched from her village and sold into slavery from Bance Island, her experience with her slave owners of North Carolina, to being a Free woman in New York, her migration to Nova Scotia with the Black Loyalists after the British left the US, her Exodus back to Africa in Sierra Leone and finally her journey to England to help in the abolitionist movement.

Dislikes – This book was well written and although it did contain instances that were harsh for some reason Aminata was always a “lucky” slaves. The fictional accounts of her life were not as harsh as some other slave recounts despite her having had her fair share of abuses. She was always treated differently and recognized as intelligent, being literate allowed her to be looked kindly opinion in many instances. While this could have actually been the way it was during the time this book was written it didn’t seem as raw as other fictional recounts from that time.

Likes – This book used an excellent mixture of fiction and historical fact to create a very interesting and creative story line. Not only were historically accurate dates, times and places used but also historical characters were given the same name and purpose in the book with a twist from the imagination of Lawrence Hill. Also the fine details made this book so much more believable, the details of female genital mutilation brought up cleverly, the origins of Aminata’s life being of the Muslim faith to the details of the natural herbs used during her time as a mid wife and nurse. This book also had a very expansive reach, covering many events that I had no idea of before the book. From the Black Loyalists migration to America’s Liberation or the origins of Freetown in Sierra Leone. This book has inspired me to do my research which I always look for in a good book.

What I Learnt – In this book Aminata is a goal driven woman. She has a goal in mind and every step she takes is done with the purpose of achieving that very goal. However her goals don’t always align with her true purpose. One example is that she had to realise that her husband was dead and never coming back and also to give up all hope of finding her daughter who had been taken before leaving for Sierra Leone, giving up her goal of having a family. Another example was her aim to eventually go to England merely as a means of returning back to Africa. In the book after a harsh experience in Africa she understood that her final point was supposed to be England to fulfill her greater purpose of helping in the end of the slave trade causing her to leave Africa where she always wanted to reside to migrate to England.

Aminata sacrificed children, family and friends all for her vision. The strength of the protagonist is an inspiration. Throughout all of her heartbreak she kept surviving and doing what she thought was right. Throughout the book she did many things for her people and her strong sense of self identity never left her. This book is a reminder that we may have a plan for our lives but it may not be the same as our ultimate purpose. Unfortunate events may take place but always keep surviving.

This book has brought be pride as a black woman from Barbados. It is a reminder of the strength of my ancestors to have even survived the slave trade. Barbados is mentioned a number of times in the book which helped bring the message to heart. I am a strong woman, descendant of African slaves who survived, not only can I survive but I can prosper. I have heard accounts that the slaves of Barbados, more than half died from sheer exhaustion, worked until they could physically no longer work which is why the story of Aminata seems so “nice” but even with it’s pleasantries it was still a reminder of the strength within my genes. Overall a satisfying read and I would recommend.

Until next time



PS This book is available on Amazon.

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