Summary: Amari is a young black girl from a village in Africa. She has an easy life with her parents, younger brother and newly betrothed- Besa. It all changes when one day an Ashanti warrior brings “strange men with skin the color of goat’s milk”. Most of the people in the village are killed, while the young and healthy survivors are captured and taken to be slaves in America. This book follows Amari’s journey to the coast, to America and in slavery. She makes many friends and experiences horrible, horrible crimes.
This book is told from two perspectives: Amari and Polly- a young white indentured servant. The two are hesitant to trust each other at first, but certain circumstances force them together. They begin to understand each other in a way they didn’t before, especially Polly. Polly was a pretentious snob, at the beginning of the book, who turned up her nose to be working in the kitchen with slaves. As she continues working with Teenie, Amari and Tidbit in the kitchen, she begins to form a family bond with all of them. She realizes that slaves are people too and their treatment is truly despicable.
Polly’s character development and arc was my favorite. Not because she is a white girl, but because we can feel her thoughts and perceptions about what she thought was true begin to unravel. When Amari is whipped for dropping pie, Polly was so horrified, it was only a pie after all! I think that was a defining moment for Polly, she truly saw what slavery was and she hated how powerless she was to stop it. The other thing I liked about Polly was her spirit, she didn’t buy into the crap that women aren’t supposed to read or have abilities besides childbearing. It was wonderful to see her change because I didn’t really like her at first.
Amari is a kind and gentle spirit. She is always a joy to read, because she is so innocent and it was heartbreaking to feel what she went through. Slavery is terrible, but reading about it like this, it’s so much worse. I don’t even have the words to describe how truly deplorable their treatment is. I was amazed that Amari was able to keep hope and faith that she would get free.
The writing in this book is very easy to understand and I’ve been flying through the pages when I have time to read. Amari’s parts can be a little more difficult than Polly’s since she’s still learning English, but they are still beautifully written. Overall, a wonderful though saddening read.