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Someone Knows My Name

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  59,083 Ratings  ·  5,518 Reviews
"Wonderfully written...populated by vivid characters and rendered in fascinating detail."—Nancy Kline, New York Times Book Review

Kidnapped as a child from Africa, Aminata Diallo is enslaved in South Carolina but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan she becomes a scribe for the British, recording the names of blacks who have served the King and ea
Paperback, 512 pages
Published November 10th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 18th 2007)
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Popular Answered Questions

Hedel If a grade 4 student is willing to read it, i'd say let them.
It's hard enough to get kids to read at all. It has some mature themes but I'm sure…more
If a grade 4 student is willing to read it, i'd say let them.
It's hard enough to get kids to read at all. It has some mature themes but I'm sure they've seen much worse in movies.
Since it's your student and not your child, might want to check with what you're allowed to say. I believe some parents are pretty strict on books.(less)

Community Reviews

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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely everyone
(International title: Someone Knows My Name)
It's 1802 and Aminata Diallo, now an old woman, sits down to write her life story at the request of the Abolitionists in London. Abducted from her village in West Africa at the age of eleven and marched in a coffle (a string of slaves) for three months before reaching the coast, Aminata survives the voyage to America and ends up sold to an indigo plantation owner in South Carolina. She describes herself as lucky, because compared to the tragic circumst
Raeleen Lemay
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, adult-fiction
This is a book where the plot is centered around slavery, but the book isn't really about slavery. The story is really about a woman and the hardships she went through. Aminata was an incredible protagonist, and I wish more people could be like her.

It is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend that everyone read it! It has really made me want to pick up more books that focus specifically on different cultures, as it really opened my eyes to how brutal some parts of the world were (and still are
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
UPDATE: $1.99 Kindle special today! It's soooooooo GOOD!!!

Lisi: (my best friend since Jr. High School). Thank you for last week-end!

NOTE: If you have received your mail, I have started this book which you told me I MUST MUST read. I started it this morning.
WOW....I'm hooked already! WONDERFUL ---just as you said!!!!
Thanks *Ilyce*! (luv, ya...'Hi to Ken')


WOW!!!! I could not stop thinking about this story ev
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Maxine
This is definitely the best book I read in 2011 and one I will remember for a long time. Aminata Diallo is such a powerful character, a woman who had to deal with so much in her life but came out with a small victory in the end. Slavery is something we all know about but it's very rare we really think about what the slaves went through, and how they were forced to adopt to a new culture and life separated from their family and homeland.Lawrence Hill did exceptional work on this book.
Giselle (Book Nerd Canada)
Abducted by slave traders as a young child, Aminata is a survivor. She is taken so far from home that her ultimate vow is to get back. This is her powerful story that will make you laugh, tear and jump for joy all at the same time. Powerful. Moving. Memorable. The Book of Negroes will stay with you long after you have read it.

I couldn't put this one down. I know it seems like such a daunting read and the font is tiny, but trust me, you'll fly through this. There are times it's heart-breaking, so
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I felt a whole range of emotions when reading this book. I can't even form a complete review to give Hill's novel justice. However, I will say that this is the type of book that demands to be read and more importantly, to reach a vast readership. It demands that you sit down and put your WHOLE heart into reading this novel. I say this because the story within this book's covers doesn't fully release the reader until they have hit the last page and every
Feb 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My expectations were set really high for this one. It sat proudly at the top of my to-read pile with an imposing 4.40 average across close to 1400 ratings.

Now, I'm not one of those dinks who look to read popular novels (see Da Vinci Code pinheads) just so they can turn their haughty noses up on them and knock down averages), but I'm afraid my rating will knock this average down just a notch. Not because I'm a pinhead, but because
The Book of Negroes lacks what I need in a novel.

Time and again, wh

Update (2):
This just in from BOOK NEWS -
"Lawrence Hill's bestselling novel The Book of Negroes is set to be adapted for film thanks to a chance meeting in a Toronto bookstore."

"The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill tops books list for the week ending June 16, 2009

Larry's extensive research and plain great story-telling are only two of the reasons why it was Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize; the winner of The Rogers Writers' Tru
Aug 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was obviously sad and depressing given the topic, but it was also fascinating. There was so much history I was unfamiliar with, especially about slavery in Nova Scotia and and the return of ex-slaves to Sierra Leone. At times, the main character seemed a bit improbable and the ending was particularly improbable, but she was a great vehicle for seeing and understanding slavery in a number of contexts and also understanding that "undoing" the damage done is very complicated.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, oh-canada
My family is anti conditions-of-blacks-in-the-American-south type of literature. I was taught to avoid being "one of those black people who obsess over slavery" and focus on our future. Being born in Canada and growing up in an East African/West Indian family, there was a belief that the American slave experience was somehow not "our" experience. With that said, the only reason I read this book is because the author is from Canada. Shallow, but true.

The story is told in retrospect through the e
Precious Williams
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves a dramatic story
I chanced upon this novel in a rather random way. I was invited to discuss my own forthcoming book at a book club and the book club were reading The Book of Negroes for March. I'd heard of the novel but didn't have immediate plans to read it. In the end I read the entire huge tome (it's about 500 pages) in just two or three days. I actually could not stop reading it.

I learnt a lot from this book. I learned a lot about my own family history. I am half Sierra Leonean and the Sierra Leonean half o
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Aminata, stolen from her homeland in Africa and taken into slavery in America on the cusp of the Revolutionary  War.  Just heart wrenching what she endured, and she was actually one of the lucky ones.  Known as Mina, she easily learned languages and how to read, which helped her survive from one owner to the next, from one town to the next, from one country to the next, and from one continent to the next.  All she wanted was to have a family and to some day return to her hom ...more
Mar 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it absorbing; I found it readable. I wanted to like it more than I actually did. If any of Horatio Alger's characters had been born African and sold into slavery, Aminita Diallo might be its preincarnation. It's hard to say that any slave is fortunate, yet Aminita, compared to those around her, keeps drawing to an inside straight only to be dealt the right card. Hollywood should love it. Maybe plausibility is not the most important element in historical fiction. The story "feels good" fr ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I never rated this book.

Iris if you are reading this, Lisi and I both read this together years ago.
It's soooo gripping. Possible to put down... sooooo heartbreaking.

The author, Lawrence Hill, has a new book our...( I'm in the middle of hiking -audiobook listening to another book...stopped to use the girls room- check mail -- and just discover his new book.
It's called "The Illegal"....

But I can't recommend this book highly enough. Warning'll be 'spent' when finishe
Wilhelmina Jenkins
What an amazing book! The protagonist is spectacular - I don't think that I have ever identified so completely with a character in slavery. The author incorporates historical events which were new to me - always a plus. The story was so compelling and so true to human behavior. No group was all good or all bad, just human. I am just dazzled by this superb work.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There isn't enough space to fill all the accolades Lawrence Hill deserves with Someone Knows My Name!! Captivating in every way with a story line that grabs you from the first sentence and ends with you thinking....Awesome!! A book I won't forget and one that is a on my top, top favorites!!!
Inspiring. Emotional. Beautiful. Significant. Insightful.

This is a difficult book to read. There were moments that you would clench your jaw, moments that made you take a deep breath because it was too much to full digest, and moments of pure misery and heart shattering.

I think this is a novel that everyone must read at least once in their lives. Learning the history of such a tough topic is incredibly suffocating at how horrific it is that any of it happened in the first place. Living vicariou
Aug 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love a strong female protagonist
Recommended to Lesliemae by: G.E. Clarke
I think this box is not large enough to encompass what I learned from this book. I learned about the slave trade in Canada, I learned about Loyalists coming into Nova Scotia in hopes of land and freedom and finding only disillusion, disappointment, and segregation. This tale follows Aminata Diallo from Africa to South Carolina to New York City, to Birchtown, Nova Scotia to Seirra Leone to London, England. By the end of the novel I was so invested in Aminata's story that I was moved and cried thr ...more
Using the historical "Book of Negroes" as a component, Lawrence Hill has created a sweeping picture of the African slave trade through the life of one woman, Aminatta Diallo. We follow her from her days with her family in the village of Bayo in an unknown country of Africa, to her kidnapping, travel on a slave ship, and arrival in the new world. The details of that voyage leave very little to the imagination. There she follows the path of many others in being victimized, occasionally befriended, ...more
Oct 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Becky by: Historical Fictionistas
I've wanted to read this book for a long time, so when it was chosen as a group read in my Historical Fiction group, I jumped at the chance to push it to the top of my list. And I'm very glad that I did.

Aminata Diallo was pulled from her home in Africa at 11, forced to walk 3 months to the coast, crossed the Atlantic on a slave ship, and then was sold into slavery. From there, her story veers off in unexpected directions, and I found myself fascinated and completely wrapped up in her life and a
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who question "history"
Shelves: fiction
This was a quite a surprise read. At first I was expecting something along the lines of Alex Haley’s Roots but it doesn’t have the same quick pace and gut wrenching scenes, it did however prove to be an eye opener with a strong story overall.

Told in the first person and mostly through narration (two writing styles I normally dislike), the story comes to life from beginning to end which shows how talented a writer Lawrence Hill is. Even though it was told in the first person the reader can still
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to jo by: eccentric muse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
as best as i can judge, lawrence hill reproduces here the style and tone of the classic slave narratives, which he also credits at the end (in particular, he directs to reader to The Classic Slave Narratives collected by henry louis gates in one volume that includes olaudah equiano's, mary prince's, frederick douglass', and harriets jacobs' autobiographies). i have taught a couple of slave narratives (douglass and jacobs) and i must say it was a labor of love, because, well, because they sound d ...more
Friederike Knabe
Hearing your own name spoken in public isn't usually something significant. Yet, on a slave trading ship that transported up to a thousand Africans to North America, this act of public acknowledgement was momentous. Calling out their full names to each other was equal to "affirming their humanity". In the early mornings from the bowels of the vessel the chanting voices represented not only an important ritual of recognition and respect, it was also a way of finding out who had made it through th ...more
Susan G
I am sorry to report I was disappointed in this book. I was excited to read about the Black Loyalists of Nova Scotia. But there wasn't enough about that; most of the book was devoted to Aminata's kidnapping, passage, and slave days. Nothing wrong with that, but when he finally got around to the less familiar topics, he seemed to run out of gas.

What bothered me more, though, was the mediocre writing (and editing). There were just too many inconsistencies (why isn't she unfamiliar with cities and
N W James
There isn't a lot to say about this book. It was an excellent summer read: well-paced, engrossing, well written. Not a one of us disliked the book. Reading it, to me, felt like story time in elementary school. You know, you'd be excited to hear the next part of the plot and while it was being read to you it utilized all of your senses. Your childhood naivete allows you to accept all characters and plot lines as truth.

The problem with a great story like that is it doesn't make for a good book gr
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone Knows My Name is a very well written fictional account about the early days of slavery in America. It tells the story of Aminata, a child born in Africa, who is captured and taken from her homeland and brought to America as a slave. Yearning to get back to her homeland, Aminata’s strong determination, strength of mind and intelligence enables her to cope with the events she experiences on her travels. Aminata is indeed a strong and courageous female protagonist and is central to the othe ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K by: TABBIEs book club
Lost interest, unfortunately. Thin characterization (the main character is beautiful, smart, resourceful, gutsy, charming, and not particularly accessible to the reader), stereotypes (of course the African mother was a midwife), cliches (of course the parents had fallen in love despite being from different tribes), anachronisms (yet another daughter learning to read despite the times), depression (if you ever doubted that it sucks to be kidnapped for slavery, this book will set you straight), et ...more
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2009, own
I love male authors who can write a convincing female lead in their novels. Lawrence Hill's Aminata Diallo is a strong, lucky, fierce woman and I really enjoyed reading her life story.

The writing itself flows so easily that falling into the story and just getting lost in it was super easy. The story itself was in turns shocking, heartbreaking and uplifting.

I am glad I sat down and fell into this book, it was worth every minute.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have no words. This was one of the best books I've ever read, very touching.
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-writers
This link has the listing of the actual people whose names were put in the real life Book of Negros.

Aminata Diallo is eleven when her life is ripped apart and made never the same. Slaver traders attack her village and murder her beloved father and mother. She is taken away on a forced march to the sea and shipped to America where she is enslaved in South Carolina. So begins the lifetime odyssey of Aminata who is renamed against her will "Meena."

Aminata i
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Hill is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction. In 2005, he won his first literary honour: a National Magazine Award for the article “Is Africa’s Pain Black America’s Burden?” published in The Walrus. His first two novels were Some Great Thing and Any Known Blood, and his first non-fiction work to attract national attention was the memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and Wh ...more
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“To gaze into another persons face is to do two things: to recognise their humanity and to assert your own.” 116 likes
“You must learn to respect," Papa said.

But I do not respect her," I said.

Papa paused for a moment, and patted my leg. "Then you must learn to hide your disrespect.”
More quotes…