Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Book of Negroes

by Lawrence Hill
HarperCollins, 2007

A "Canada Reads" (CBC) book selection; also the "One Book, One Community" book choice for Waterloo Region, 2009.

Aminata Diallo is of the Bayo tribe in Africa, and is kidnapped by slave traders at the tender age of 11. Forced to march with other captives to Bance Island, she crosses the sea and lands in South Carolina. Along the way, she witnesses much brutality, death, and disease. She leaves nothing out in her recounting of events, and so the reader experiences all of the horror with her.

But Aminata, who becomes known as Meena in the Colonies, is an intelligent, strong, and resilient girl, and survives, both through the care of those who take her under their wing, and through the use of her own wits. Though she suffers cruelty and hardship, she continues to press on, always with the ultimate goal of returning to Africa and the Bayo village. She moves from South Carolina to New York to Nova Scotia (as a black loyalist), and finally to Sierra Leone. At last close to realizing her dream, she joins forces with the abolitionists in England in a bid to end the slave trade once and for all.

Beautifully written, with strongly developed characters, the book draws the reader in from the very first pages, and never lets go. Highly recommended, it is based on historical fact, and acts as a rebuke and a reminder. We must do all that we can to end human slavery, for sadly, though not officially or generally tolerated, it continues to this day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul

by John and Stasi Eldredge,
Thomas Nelson, 2007

After reading Wild at Heart last year, I thought I would enjoy the companion book for women. Alas, not so.

The premise of the book is that every woman has three common desires: to be romanced, to play a role in her own adventures, and to display beauty. Sadly, many women do not get these desires met and end up depressed, angry, isolated, and tired. The authors believe that if women see God as the ultimate lover, look to Eve as their model of ideal womanhood, and form close, intimate friendships with one another, they will better get their needs met. This is not new material, and not every woman will agree with the foundational concepts on which the authors build their argument.

Not recommended. The writing style was challenging, and it took me about six weeks to plod through. You would spend your time more wisely with a book like Completely His: Loving Jesus without Limits by Shannon Ethridge.