Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Someone Knows My Name

Someone Knows My Name/The Book of Negroes
By Lawrence Hill
Publication date: 2007

My review:

Aminata Diallo is kidnapped by slavers at the age of eleven and taken on a terrible trip overseas to the Carolinas where she is sold to the owner of an indigo plantation. She is later sold again to a Jewish indigo inspector. Eventually Aminata escapes and is given the chance to work for the British, recording names in their Book of Negroes, a list of slaves who are freed by the British for their service during the war. Someone Knows My Name tells the story of a courageous and intelligent woman who never gives up on her dream of freedom and returning to her homeland.

Aminata is a fantastic character. She suffers so much but she is brave and resilient. I loved her determination and strength and how education was so important to her. It was particularly hard to read about the horrors of the crossing in the slave ship, to imagine what it would be like to be ripped from your home and to survive that ship and then be sold into slavery. Reading about these events through the eyes of a child made a powerful impact.

There is a lot of historical detail in the novel from the depictions of slavery to the making of indigo dye. Real historical figures like William Wilberforce add to the narrative. The abolition movement and the various arguments and setbacks are also discussed. The Book of Negroes was a real historical document that listed the names of freed Loyalist slaves who were given transportation to Canada. The colonies of freed slaves described in the book were also real. The novel is published in Canada as The Book of Negroes and later published in the U.S. as Someone Knows My Name. It is a well written and incredibly moving novel and Aminata is an unforgettable heroine.


  1. Wow this sounds like a fantastic historical fiction. I like the setting as I have only read one other book about slavery pre-Civil War era. Thanks for the terrific review.

  2. I like the sound of this and that it is a historical fiction. Always a good thing! The way you describe the character, sounds like she is very strong! Great review.

  3. I absolutely adored this book! I love hearing that other people do, too; not that I don't love the "typical" Canadian authors (Atwood, Ondaatje, etc.), but it's always good when someone else gets critical and international acclaim.


Reading Extensively is now an award free blog. Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment. I enjoy receiving feedback! Due to increase in spam, I've enabled comment moderation. Sorry for any inconvenience!