Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself by Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge

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Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself is about the life and adventures of a slave named Olaudah Equiano. Equiano was alive from 1745 to 1797 and in his lifetime lived in Africa, the Caribbean, America, and Britain, which are all places he describes in his autobiography. At the start of the book Equiano describes how his life was comfortable and pleasant in the Kingdom of Benin, until one day he was kidnapped from his family, never to see them again. Throughout his life he faced racism and prejudice, eventually gaining his freedom and then fighting for the freedom of his people. The book explains all this in detail by using Equiano’s own words to tell his story.

The writing style of this book was very creative. I would never have thought that taking lines from a memoir and turning them into a poem would create such a wonderful story. The historical paragraphs between each chapter were great, it helped me understand the importance of events that were unfolding in the time period. Equiano wrote the book using vocabulary that was very different from the English language used today. For example, he refers to his enslaver as his master, and I found this to be a bit confusing because sometimes I didn’t know which of his former or current enslavers he was talking about, however, it ultimately does not impede your understanding of the rest of the story. My only complaint is that I would have liked to read about the last ten or so years of his life, instead of having just a paragraph at the end of the book, but I suppose this is because Equiano never wrote about this.

The most memorable thing about this book in my opinion is Equiano’s ability to persevere and work hard. Throughout the book, he describes horrible events that he witnesses and he describes the brutality of some enslavers towards their slaves. Yet reading about how Equiano worked hard to achieve his dreams gave me a sense of optimism and hope. It made me feel content to know that in 1833, thirty-six years after Equiano died, his dream was finally achieved and slavery was abolished across the British Empire.

Reviewed by Tristan M., Twin Hickory Area Library

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