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Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born.
When his master's eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or "Titch," is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist.
He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash's head, Titch abandons everything to save him.
What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life, one which will propel him further across the globe.
Madison- 4 Star
I highly recommend reading Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. When I began reading this novel, all I knew was it was set in the 19th century, and narrated by Washington Black – a slave boy born on a plantation in Barbados. What I discovered was a grand historical adventure story that takes you all over the world. I could not put this book down and found myself excitingly waiting until the end of the day when I could curl up in bed and find out what was going to happen next in the life of Washington Black. Esi Edugyan tackles themes of friendship, family and what is means to be free. The protagonist Washington Black possesses scientific and artistic skills that allow him privileges that others born into slavery would not be afforded. He muses “I had long seen science as the great equalizer. No matter one's race, or sex, or faith - there were facts in the world waiting to be discovered. How little thought I'd given to the ways in which it might be corrupted.”
I was very impressed with how Edugyan recreated a time she did not live with such vivid detail, certainty and elegance. Each character was realistic and complex with Washington Black, the narrator, being someone you could relate to even if you share no common characteristics.
My only complaint would be that I found the ending fell a little bit short for how grand and epic the rest of the story had been.
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