Skip to main content

Book Review: Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill

Aminata Diallo was born in Bayo, an African village, in the mid-1700's. There she lived with her loving parents until she was 11 years old. Then her whole world shattered. She was taken away, forced to walk for days across the land, loaded onto a ship, and sold into slavery in America. In 1802, she is in London writing her life story at the request of Abolitionists who feel she can help their cause.

Lawrence Hill brings Aminata to life in Someone Knows My Name (known also as The Book of Negros), telling a story that is at once fascinating and shocking. Her journey captivated me from the start. When she's a child in Bayo, we see how she was brought up in the village, learning her mother's trade and her father's religion. It feels like we are right next to her as she is marched across Africa, experiencing atrocities that are hard to even imagine. And then when she is in America, Hill showed how she became acclimated to the environment, learning the languages and the cultural norms of the slaves and the slave owners.

What I loved about this story is that Hill showed us Aminata, her environments and her interactions with others; he didn't tell the story. He brought us into her world and let her show us things as she experienced them. Her thoughts and perspective seem more realistic than many of the other books I've read from the perspective of a slave. Someone Knows My Name is unique in that it's about slavery during the Revolutionary War, rather than the Civil War. And we are able to be with Aminata from the time she is taken from her village until she is an old woman who has made it out of America.

While it's obvious who the good guys and bad guys are in this situation, Hill doesn't demonize the slave owners and people who contribute to the slave trade. He shares their side of the story as well. I love the fact that one of Aminata's owners is actually a Jewish man who is struggling to fit into society himself. It's truly amazing how many different aspects of this time and situation Hill is able to cover in this novel.

I highly recommend Someone Knows My Name to anyone who enjoys literary fiction or historical fiction. It would make an amazing discussion for a book club as well. If you have it on your shelf, don't wait two years to read it as I did. Read it now!

My Rating: 5/5

Discussion questions for Someone Knows My Name
Read an excerpt

This review was written based on a copy of Someone Knows My Name that I obtained through Paperback Swap.


  1. I loved this book. One of the best books I've read in the past few years.

    1. I agree. It's definitely one of my all-time favorites!

  2. Sounds very good...need to put it in my TBR stack.

    Stopping by from the Linky List on Carole's Chatter.

    Stop by my blog if you like to look around and also sign up for my mystery giveaway.

    Silver's Reviews

  3. Hi, I am just making up a pinboard of all the entries to Books You Loved: August Edition - unfortunately Pinterest won't let me pin this because the images aren't large enough. If you would like to be included please increase the size of the image and let me know via a comment on Carole's Chatter. Cheers


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Popular posts from this blog

Getting back to blogging

It seems that blogging has dropped to the bottom of my list for the past year, and was pretty low for the year or two prior to that. I love to read, and am continuing to do so, but as my regular readers know I haven't been around much. My last blog post was almost a year ago!!

There are many things that have taken me away from blogging. Work has been much more challenging and interesting these past few years, but that means I really don't want to get back on the computer when I get home at night - or on the weekends.

Family life has been more busy with kids having multiple activities in the evenings, leaving little time to just hang out and write about the books that I read.

I will admit to a bit of a Facebook addiction, which means way too much time spent scrolling through my newsfeed instead of doing something more productive. This is one of the things I'm working on and hoping that this will free up some time for getting back to the blog.

Overall, life is good. Work is …

Book Review: The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Peter Byerly is distraught over the loss of his wife nine months ago. He has retreated to their cottage in the English countryside, hoping to return to his love of collecting and restoring rare books. But when he opens a book about Shakespeare forgeries and finds a Victorian watercolor of a woman who looks just like his wife, Peter is soon on a search for the origin of the painting and the truth about Shakespeare's real identity.

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett is a wonderful journey for anyone who loves books. It follows Peter's search in 1995, which turns into a bit of a thriller at times. But Lovett also takes the reader back in time a bit so we can learn the story of his relationship with his wife and how he came to be a bookseller. He does a beautiful job of expressing Peter's feelings about the rare books he encounters, and his feelings are contagious.

And then he takes us back even further to the history of one particular volume, whos…

Book Review: The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis

When Stella and Tom move to a new home in London, they are sad to have left their friends behind. But soon they have a mystery to solve. Their neighbor's dog, Harry, keeps disappearing. Where is he going and why is he always wet when he comes home? As they investigate the area in the garden where Harry seems to come and go, they discover a hidden tunnel that takes them back to their garden ... almost 100 years ago.

The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis is a wonderful children's book that reminds me of the adventurous stories I read as a child. I saw other reviewers say something similar. I'm not sure what it is about the way the story is told, but it is reminiscent of children's books from many years ago, yet it will definitely appeal to the kids of today.

Stella and Tom have an adventure in the past that leads to new friends and discoveries. While it's a time travel story, it doesn't have a lot of fantasy elements (although there are some moles that act a bit unusua…