Someone Knows My Name

Lawrence Hill | Fiction


The book is the perfect follow-up novel after reading Homegoing and learning about the slave trade, and appreciating The Underground Railway about slavery and the fight for freedom.  Someone Knows My Name is another fictionalized book about slavery, but in this novel, the slave truly does gain her freedom.  Her journey from Africa to South Carolina to New York to Nova Scotia to Africa to London is a truly remarkable story.

Solidly based in history, Aminata Diallo is stolen from her African village in 1756 when she is eleven.  She endures many hardships, cruelties, and humiliations.  However, this novel explores her journey towards freedom, with its myriad of experiences -- disappointments, setbacks, mistrust, trust, and occasional compassion.  Aminata becomes the author of the Book of Negroes, a record of 3000 black women, men, and children who served the British during the Revolutionary War, in exchange for freedom and transport to Nova Scotia from New York and other places in the east.  (You can see The Book of Negroes in the National Archives of the United States, Canada, or England).

I loved this book!  It is well written, compelling, and fascinating.  It is about 500 pages, so it takes a while, but it is one of those long books that you don’t want to end ... every chapter reveals something new and intriguing.  Three times I checked to confirm that Someone Knows My Name was written by a man.  I am always in awe when I feel a male author can truly represent the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of a woman, and Lawrence Hill does that unerringly.  And then to reach the end and discover that he is a Canadian, born and raised in Toronto – I was even more impressed.  While he wrote about slavery in the not-yet-united-states, I suspect he was inspired by the role Nova Scotia played in the salvation of these slaves.

I fully recommend Someone Knows My Name. And I am very grateful to Jan D, from the Casting Crew book club, who suggested in this book as a 2016 read, and when we rejected it, fought for it again in 2017.  She was right all along! 


10 responses on “Someone Knows My Name

  1. Rene

    I will put this on my list. It will complement Homegoing, which I almost finished (life got in the way), and two books I am reading now: Alexander Hamilton, an audio book, and American Nations: A History of the eleven rival regional cultures of North America, which begins before the Revolutionary War, covers the RW, and believe brings us to 2010. This is an interesting read.

    Thanks, Andrea!

    1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

      Cool, Rene! American Nations, at your suggestion, is my book-after-the-next-book. It’s on the top of my pile!

  2. Mary Cary Crawford

    I picked up a copy of the Canadian version of this book a few years ago. When published in Canada, its title was The Book of Negros. When it was picked up by a U.S. publisher, they felt it couldn’t be published by this title – too risky, too controversial. I thought that was a rather sad commentary. In Canada, this was the ‘big read’ for all of Ontario and was highly successful.

    I too loved this book. Yes, it is long but a compelling read. Have passed it on to others who have also enjoyed it. What a story!!

  3. Donna

    Hi Andrea – and friends. I’ve just finished reading the reviews of all your books plus comments from your friends. At this point I have nothing to add because I am just now beginning to read in earnest – now that I’m fully retired (at least for now). A few of the books you’ve already reviewed – Woman of God, A Man called OVE, HomeGoing, News of the World – I read too long ago to comment but loved each one. If you read the version I read of News of the World, it was sent out as a pre-self-published book which explains all the errors. There was no editor. The author is a friend of Glenn’s brother. I’m looking forward to beginning to comment on your future posts, Andrea. I LOVE how you capture the essence of each book.
    The book I just finished last night – and one you may want to pick up – is Dominic Smith’s The Last Painting of Sara De Vos. The story interweaves three timelines (1636, 1958 and 2000) in the story of one woman’s landscape painting and how it has a rippling impact on three people over multiple centuries and locations in the world. A wonderful read if you like art. Now reading Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune (I’ve read all her books), and my next read is the New York Times Bestseller The Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly.

    1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

      The Last Painting of Sara De Vos sounds intriguing! It is going on my list right now.

    2. Rene

      Hi Donna, I listened to News of the World as an audio book and absolutely loved it. It’s exciting to learn that it was written by a friend of a friend of a friend!

      I listened to A Man Called Ove and didn’t much like it, although I appreciated the curmudgeon because I’m married to one. Our book club has selected it and I had planned to skip that book club meeting, but have decided instead to listen to it again to see if it resonates with me better this time.

      1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

        Rene, everyone wanted me to read A Man Called Ove because he is a widower .. it was actually being passed from one Grief Support member to anther. I was a little fearful of reading it, yes, havign been married to a curmudgeon, too. but I found it funny! Hmm, I downer if that is what I said my blog??

  4. Donna

    Rene, I loved A Man called OVE because my late husband was the ultimate curmudgeon and not very often funny or humerous, though he could be the life of the party. Behind all his gruffness, there was a heart of gold. Kinda like OVE. I loved that as the story evolved, the author added just enough grit to his personality that by the last chapter you were really pulling for him. I ended up finding him endearing. Like my late husband. So, perhaps there was a really personal reason for my loving the book. Having said that, I have put Fredrik Backman’s next book Britt-Marie was Here: A Novel on my to-read list.