Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review:: Someone Knows My Name


Have you missed me...?  This spring has been all kinds of crazy for me and my little family.  I've purposefully slowed down my photography this year, and I'm thankful for the more relaxed schedule.  I've been spending much more time with Wyatt, and I've had more opportunities to help at his school because I'm not sitting at the computer editing photos all day, every day.  About six weeks ago, I decided that I'm tired of not having any energy and not being able to fit into my pants the way I want, so I started a fitness group of about a dozen of my friends, and some combination of us has met up every single weekday for all of those weeks for exercise and a nice, long walk.  I've been out in the garden...not just mine, either!  I've helped a few friends in their flower beds and I was able to beautify the school's drive-thru.  OH, and I read this book...which I highly, highly recommend.

Someone Knows My Name is a beautifully written, poignant account of the fictional life of Aminata Diallo...a little African girl who was born free, but then abducted and sold into slavery at around the age of eleven.  She was shipped to the American Colonies, where she was treated as a piece of property and forced to produce indigo for her owner.  Meena, as she comes to be known, is extremely intelligent and learns very quickly.  Her skills as a midwife and knowledge of herbs passed down from her mother in Africa help her to attain a high status even as a slave.  She secretly learns to read and write under the tutelage of a house slave, and is taught to do math and keep books by one of her owners.  Her life is in no way preferable, however, as she endures great losses and hardships throughout her decades as a slave, those losses including her husband and children.  After the Revolutionary War starts to lean toward the Colonies' eventual victory, the opportunity presents itself for Meena to return to her homeland, and she takes it.  What she finds there is not what she remembers or expects.  The slave trade is still going strong, and when a door opens to fight for the abolition of the slave trade, she decides to abandon her lifelong desire to return home to her village in exchange for the hope of ending the human trade forever. 

While this book is very emotionally heavy, the overall tone was very strong and hopeful.  Meena never gives up.  She never stops believing that she is of value.  She never forgets the wisdom her father in Africa taught her about life.  She loves fully and faithfully.  She understands the importance of patience and diligence.  And she never, ever stops seeking freedom; not just her own, but for her people.  This book ends on a joyous note, and I felt great satisfaction that this fictional woman finally got her reward for a life well-lived.  So many lessons can be learned about accepting our circumstances for what they are, and then learning to rise above with grace and dignity.  Just a beautiful, beautiful story.  Yes, it will shock you with very graphic details of how living, breathing human beings were brutalized and humiliated.  But it will delight you to see the human spirit overcome all of the tragedy and turmoil. 

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