Aminata Diallo, the daughter of a jeweler and a midwife, is growing up in her father's village in West Africa, learning the Muslim prayers from her father and assisting her mother in "catching babies" in the surrounding villages. But strange men confront Aminata's party on the way home from one of these infant deliveries, changing her life forever. Her journey begins with a three month forced march overland, through the harrowing Middle Passage and on to a life of struggle and sacrifice spanning three continents.
Someone Knows My Name is, first and foremost, the fascinating story of a brave and intelligent woman determined not only to survive, but to reach her goal of returning home to freedom. Its nearly 500 pages bristle with tension, love, horror, and hope.
Although this is a work of fiction, the memoir form is believable and engaging.
Aminata tells her own story with an Someone Knows My Name By Lawrence Hill, W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, Hardcover, 470 pages, $24.95strong voice that is almost audible in the reading. In fact, I found myself surprised on occasion to catch sight of Mr. Hill's name on the cover or his picture on the dust jacket. He had me believing that this tale came not from the imagination and research of a 21st Century male author, but from the experience of an 18th Century African woman.
From the details of Aminata's African childhood to her experiences in the American colonies and Sierra Leone, Hill brings the lesser known aspects of our shared history alive. His captivating protagonist takes our hand and leads us down the paths and across the waters, in hopes that we might more fully understand her story, the story of her people, and ultimately, that of our nation and our culture.