Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

“You were more concerned that slavery should be a moral stain upon white men than by the actual damage it wreaks on black men.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 432 pages.
Read from February 25, 2022 to March 6, 2022.

An 8 Sentence Review:

The runner up of this year’s Canada Reads 2022 debate, this is not the author’s first stint in the annual debates.

Washington Black is an accessible and unique story that paints a picture of slavery and racism while taking readers on a unique journey with varying plot points that include aeronautics, marine biology, art, and an arctic expedition. Washington’s story takes him from a plantation in Barbados to the Arctic circle, Canada and even London. It’s by a strike of luck that he gets away from the plantation and that his talents for drawing are recognised by people who both help and use him. Washington spends most of his life on the run but no matter how far he gets he can’t seem to escape his past.

Washington Black is an immersive and enjoyable adventure read but feels more fantastical than most historical fiction novels on this subject. Washington’s story is engaging but was not as potent as some of the other contenders in terms of meeting the Canada Read’s 2022 theme. The author is a talented and capable writer and I would recommend this book to those that are looking for an engaging, easy, and unique historical fiction.

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

My favourite of the five Canada Reads 2022 contenders too.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 330 pages.
Read from February 6, 2022 to February 18, 2022.

An 8-sentence review:

This is the 2022 Canada Reads winner and my favourite book of the five discussed. These two often don’t go hand in hand. This is a phenomenal story of five different Native Americans whose lives were traumatised and brought together by their time at residential schools. The dynamic depiction of the characters and their emotions draw you into their story, along with the intricacies of the suffering inflicted upon them and how it shaped their futures. While the ending is filled with hope, not all of the five get a happy ending. The characters and plot of this story are fictional but the history behind the book and the generational trauma it caused is very real and still lives on today.

This novel deserved the Canada Reads win, with the 2022 theme “One Book to Connect Us”, as this story shows a relevant and important part of Canadian history while following the journey of robust and relatable characters through their struggles. It speaks to our humanity, abilities to help others and as well as our capacity to heal, forgive, and move on. This story is an imperative example of Canada’s history and one that all Canadians and humanitarians should read.

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