Lawrence Hill's fictional biography , The Book of Negroes , grabs the reader from the first sentence. Aminata Diallo lives in the village of Bayo in West Africa and, because her mother and father come from different groups, speaks both their languages. In 1745, at eleven years old, Aminata is stolen from her village by slavers and marched three months westward to the Atlantic Ocean. Once there, she is placed on a slave ship and transported to South Carolina where she is sold to an indigo producer.
The girl endures hellish conditions both in the slave ship and on the indigo plantation, but is finally sold to a family her takes her to the infant city of New York. Aminata never loses her determination to escape captivity and to return to her village, but her life leads her into paths that she cannot predict.
Hill not only tells a fascinating story, he also presents a very readable history of the conditions and economic levers driving slavery. The book takes the reader across continents, oceans, and countries, as well as through the factors that forced Britain to outlaw slavery at home and in its colonies.