“It never made any sense to me how they needed to pull work out of us, but were willing to destroy us in order to do it. What good was a broken man? How hard could he work?”
This is a great story that will suck you in from the start. Stories about slavery are never easy to read but I feel they are important for many reasons. Reading about what horrors people have gone through all because of their skin colour and the pseudoscience that says one race is superior to another will always shock me, and it's sad that it's still happening around the world in many shapes and forms.
Grewal is a very gifted writer. He introduces us to Jelani, a very likeable character who is taught to (secretly) read and write and yearns for freedom. This book could probably be considered a bildungsroman as it shows Jelani’s coming of age while realizing a lot things about himself and the society he lives in: “That’s when I realized we weren’t born to be slaves. It was ignorant of man to think he could be the master of another.”
Jelani eventually becomes a runaway slave and encounters a lot of adventures, good and bad.
All the feelings and incidences one would expect in a slave narrative are captured perfectly in this story: there’s the putting of price-tags on a human’s life, comparing a human-being to an animal, the pain of families being separated, the violence and cruelty that were everyday occurrences in the life of a slave, for example.
The story made me feel , not surprisingly, sad and indignant. However, it did have a hopeful tone, and I think it's important to mention the story took place during Abraham Lincoln's time.Highly recommended.