Tessa Bright Wildsmith
“Someone Knows My Name” is a story of sadness and happiness, anger and resolution. The reader experiences the full range of emotion in this book, at times heartbroken, then filled with hope and happiness. It’s the story of a life, the tragic and triumphant life of the book’s main character, Aminata Diallo.
The story starts in a village in Africa where a young Aminata is kidnapped and forced into the slave trade. As she is taken, her countrymen murder her loving and intelligent mother and father before her eyes. She’s left alone with nothing but the skills of birthing babies and reading and writing, talents that save her life more than once.
Aminata ends up enslaved on a South Carolina indigo plantation where life only gets harder. She gets sold from one “master” to another “master” until finally escaping during the chaotic beginning of the Revolutionary War in Manhattan. Finally free, but lost, Aminata eventually becomes a scribe for the British Army recording names of the slaves who served the king and have been granted freedom in Nova Scotia, herself included. Aminata’s life leads her back to Africa, to her homeland, a place she no longer recognizes, and eventually on to London where she tells her story, and the story of millions of other enslaved people. Her story is one of continuous hope and a fight to never give up.
Although fiction, this book is historically accurate. “Someone Knows My Name” could be the story of the millions who crossed the ocean in slave ships. The atrocities, cruelty and injustices that Aminata suffered were the lives of these people, ripped from their homeland and taken across the big water to a land where life was worse than anything they had ever imaged.
This is a beautifully written book with a strong heroine who will stay in your mind months after you read it. The historical accounts are gripping and fascinating. And although it’s filled with a brutality and cruelty that history would like to forget, when I turned the last page I was left feeling hopeful.
“Someone Knows My Name” is a story of humanity, courage, strength and hope and is highly recommended to anyone who loves a good story.
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