The story begins in 1802, when Aminata Diallo begins to write the story of her life in London. The story takes us back to 1745 Africa in a little village called, Bayo. At that time, Aminata was eleven years old. Her father was a jeweler and her mother, a midwife...both of her parents were very respected in the village. Then, one day when she and her mother are returning from "catching a baby" in a nearby village, they are attacked by slavers. Her mother is killed and Aminata is captured. For three moons she walks with those who are shackled and wearing neck rings to the coast, where they are put aboard a slaving ship. Many are lost on the journey, but eventually they arrive in America. Aminata is sold and put to work on an indigo plantation on the sea islands of South Carolina.
Over the years Aminata survives by practicing her skills as a midwife and drawing on the strengths she inherited from both parents. However, she dreams of returning to her home in Africa. Instead, she is sent to Nova Scotia with the promise of freedom. Then, on to Sierra Leone, Africa where she realizes that her village probably no longer exists.
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, Aminata finds herself in England, telling her story and hoping to help abolishionist in their fight against slavery. It is here that she writes her life story.
The Book of Negroes introduces us to a woman who cuts a swath through a world that is hostile to both her colour and her gender. The author has transformed a neglected piece of history into a beautiful and brilliant engaging book of historical fiction.
Lawrence Hill has written several novels and works of non-fiction. He resides in Burlington, ON. The Book of Negroes tells the story of one woman's journey through life and her determination to be free. It is the winner of the Canada Reads Award for 2009.