January 16, 2014

Roots by Alex Haley

It always amazes me when I come across someone who hasn't read this book.  For most it's assigned in school, but just word of mouth is enough to have made this a popular one.  And for good reason.  This is an extremely powerful book.

Born in Africa, Kunta Kinte was the oldest son of his father Omoro and mother Binta.  Though quickly followed by several other sons, he is the man of the family and the first to go through all the different rights and teachings of his tribe.  Until he is caught by slavers and sold in America where he becomes a slave.  And from him comes several generations, some also slaves, who continue his legacy and story of Africa and hope for a better future.

The primary characters in this book are Kunta Kinte and his grandson Chicken George.  The first half of the book is about Kunta and a big portion of it is his childhood.  He is a thoughtful person and spends a lot of time daydreaming and thinking about his village and the life there.  He also has very strong convictions.  Chicken George is more fun loving and laid back.  He enjoys his comforts and I found him somewhat irritating at times because of the way he treated his family.  The women don't get as much time in this book, and I was a little disappointed in that.  I would have liked them to have just as big of roles as the men in the book.  Kunta's daughter Kizzy gets a bit, but the focus is really more on her son.

Some of the events in this book are very tragic and brutal.  Even more so because it's about situations that happened in real life.  In fact, this is actually part non-fiction.  It's the story of the author's family and the research he did was thorough.  Sure he didn't know all the conversations and everything that happened, so some is fiction, but its based off of true events.  And the horrors of slavery are clearly expressed in this book.  Some may express disappointment that you don't get to find out what happens to some of the characters, but I think this is very realistic of what happened in life as their own family members didn't know what happened in most cases. It's a hard book to put down despite it being about sad topics though.  You genuinely want to find out what happens to this family.

One of the better books out there and truly one that everyone should read.  At least in my opinion.

Copyright 1976
729 pages

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