Someone Knows My Name
Aminata Diallo is enslaved as a child in 1745 and lives through six decades by working in the indigo fields of South Carolina, Revolutionary War-torn New York City, and free communities in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone. She survives the kidnapping that kills her parents and terrible losses that invade her life with heart-sick regularity.
Aminata’s hard work and deep intelligence gain her literacy in English. Her life on the plantation is both unspeakably brutal and full of hidden joys she finds with an adoptive mother and the man who will become the love of her life.
After arriving in New York bound to a second master, who uses the accomplishments of her mind, Aminata escapes to live and work her midwifery and correspondence skills in New York City. Here, as the American Revolution is winding down, she participates in setting down an amazing document, The Book of Negroes, a list of Loyalist blacks rewarded with safe passage to Canada (where they faced race riots from their white neighbors).
Later in life, Aminata assists English abolitionist-sponsored repatriation in Africa, where her desire to see her home village almost re-enslaves her. But she achieves her childhood dream of becoming a djeli, an honored storyteller, with the story of her own life as her material.
Astonishing in scope, humanity and beauty, this is one of those very rare novels in which the deep joy of reading transcends its time and place. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Someone Knows My Name lets readers experience a life, one footstep at a time, beside an unforgettable protagonist. Highly recommended.