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Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

" 'You were children," his father said. "You knew nothing of beauty."

"Children know everything about beauty," Titch countered softly, "It is adults who have forgotten.' "

For Black History Month, this was one of my reads. I realize, I am writing this blog in March and the end of March at that. I am a little behind on reviews. This is me, working on catching up.


Washington Black by Esi Edugyan is divided into four parts and takes place from 1830 - 1836, beginning in Barbados.


After the first chapter, I was hooked. I devoured the first part of the novel and felt affection for Washington Black, who is called Wash. He is an eleven year old slave living on a sugar plantation. I had immediate respect for Big Kit, the woman who watches out for Wash's welfare. And I adored Titch who takes Wash under his wing as an assistant and apprentice.


The prose is beautiful. Even when horrible events are described there is something compelling about it. Some scenes are emotional and intense and I was drawn into the story.


The story brings the reader on Wash's journey which takes him to the US, The Arctic, Canada, England and Morocco. The relationship between Wash and Titch is endearing.


By the third part, and definitely the fourth part of the book, it started to lose me. This is so difficult for me to say because I really thought this would be a top ten for me this year. The writing was still fantastic. I was still interested in Wash, however I found it hard to believe his age. Every once in a while there would be a reminder that Wash was only 13 or 15 and each time I was gobsmacked. I'd forget that not that much time had passed and that he was supposed to be a teenager. In my opinion, he was not written as a teenager at all.


Then the timing became a little difficult for me to believe as well. From experience, I know that a lot can happen in a year, two years, or three years. Because the novel is set in the 1800's and the amount of travel, it seemed like a lot happened in a very short period of time that would be impossible.


By the fourth part, the book had already taken some interesting turns that I wasn't expecting. Normally, I love that - when a book surprises you, but this was not so much a surprise as a disconnect for me. Reading the last 50 - 60 pages, I just kept thinking how is this where we ended up.


There were some things about the ending that I can appreciate. The writing was still exceptional; I just felt that I could have been reading the ending of a different book.


All things considered, I still enjoyed Washington Black and I think I've probably hesitated writing a review hoping that in time I could reconcile some of the things that fell flat for me. It turns out that those things haven't gone away so although, I would still recommend reading the book, it didn't become the five star read I was hoping for.


Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛


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