Ruth's Reviews > Someone Knows My Name

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
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's review
Jun 04, 2012

liked it
Read from June 04 to 07, 2012

In general, I prefer finely written, taut, compact literary novels to big sprawling ones. I had to get past that in order to appreciate this book. I certainly learned a lot. It was a riveting, even if sometimes not quite believable, plot. I feel that the writer really did his research. But I also felt as if he was never going to let me forget it. He was going to move his characters through an arc that would make me learn everything that he’d learned or die trying. So while it was all very interesting, and horrifying, the characters never really came alive for me. I was always aware of the author moving them about to illustrate what he wanted to tell us about.

Aminita was an intelligent, strong woman, but I never felt like I really knew her. Or rather, I should say that as the book went on she seemed less and less real to me. I believed the things that happened to her. It’s just that I began to have a hard time believing that she would come through all this unbowed.

I learned so much from this book, realized how much there was that I didn’t know about the various and horrible permutations of slavery.

The writing was clear and serviceable, which is more than I can say for many popular books, but there were never any beautiful moments that made me want to go back and read a sentence over. As a book designed to appeal to a mass audience, I think this one is successful. More than successful. I should stop trying to make it something it isn’t.
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