I’d wanted to read this book for a while, but for some reason never picked it up full price. When I saw it in the charity shop however, I knew that I just had to get it. I ended up reading it on the hottest day on record here in the UK (that’ll date this) and I was visiting distant family at the time, so I got to sit next to their little paddling pool and become completely absorbed in this book. I gave it 5/5*.
I will say from the get go that I didn’t “enjoy” this book. And that is a compliment to Colson Whitehead. This book is covers a horrible but unavoidable section of the history of the US, the forcible capture, transportation and slavery of black Africans on plantations. This is a very real part of history, however, this book is a fictionalised version of events. These events all most likely happened, not exactly as depicted in the book but they occurred and they were and are atrocities.
I was immediately absorbed into this life, the fear that is present and the attempt at living as normal, at getting through this atrocious treatment. As a Brit, we’re not taught about this part of history in school, or at least we weren’t when I was there, but through my own reading I knew about the time. However, this book made me feel it, it specified events, it brought them to a very personal and one-to-one level, and trust me this will shake you to your core. Even if you’re American and you’ve been taught about this part of your history in school (hopefully) I still recommend picking this book up as it will make you see the events from a human perspective, rather than an impartial historian.
Possibly the worst part about all this is that events like the ones in this book still happen today, some people are still just as racist, and legal equality only happened in the 60’s (although depending on State that varies a lot and also doesn’t take into account how black American’s are still treated to this day). This isn’t long lost history. This is still happening.
And that is why you need to read this book.