by Bernardine Evaristo
The premise is that back in the day of slavery ships and wealthy slave owners, the roles were reversed. African's owned lands in Ambrosia where European indentured servants were transported (yes, middle passage and all). Europeans take on the exact role that Africans really did have in history. They are viewed as being dumb, ugly, savage-like, and not having human ties to their offspring.
Blonde Roots follows one Englishwoman (Doris) who is kidnapped from her family of cabbage farmers while playing outside with her siblings. She is taken to Ambrosia and only dreams of getting back home. She is torn from her family and displaced into slavery and the bonds and ties that brings. Half way through the book (or part way) we hear the story for a little while from the perspective of the slave owner, Bwana and then back to Doris, the slave for the conclusion.
Bernardine Evaristo wrote this portrayal in a modern way, using modern slang and things that would not have existed at all then, which is acutally something I partially appreciated. The writing is interesting, and the concept is stunning. The idea of the novel is strong, but in my opinion not well executed. I felt it horribly lacking in power. I never felt connected to Doris, the other slaves or the slave owners...and I wanted that! I didn't care really if they even made it that is how much I just felt her writing fell flat thus not allowing me to form emotional bonds with the characters.
One thing that I did find interesting is that over and over I had to remind myself that the slaves where Europeans! Whenever I am reading a book I have an image in my mind of the characters and what is happening. In Blonde Roots I kept realising that in my mind's eye I kept reversing the roles to the way that they actually were. I felt bad at first that I kept switching it back and didn't know if that would make me look horrid to confess that on here. I thought about it and really came to understand that my mind just was stuck in a rut, as it is really hard for me to imagine the roles reversed! And yet, that is the way it could have been!
There were many good things about this book, but as I am an avid lover of good character development and well formed plots....I can't say I feel that Bernadine Evaristo ended up giving her novel the potential that it had in concept. I felt immensely confused and disconnected against my own will.
What do you think of the concept, doesn't it sound like a great book from the outside!?!
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