It’s hard to make a review for a book as amazing as this one! The journey an African American family took to get to where they were, and the struggle Alex Haley went through to discover the truth behind the history of his family. Thinking back now, I was walking through Walmart with my family looking for an Air conditioner to cool off the living room during the smothering hot summer afternoons. While strolling through the aisles I just so happen to gaze over and notice books on sale, most of which seemed to me like bland romance books, or novels that didn’t seem to catch my attention. But as I’m running my fingers through pages, picking up books and scrutinizing them slowly before putting it back down. Then I looked up from a John Sandford novel, and hit me smack in the face.
I just stared at it for a second, mouth agape, eyes twinkling with a new found awe. I held the book in my hands and from that second on I knew I would never let go. Weeks earlier I saw a trailer of the show “Roots”, based on the book, being produced by the History channel (I recently watched it, and if you read the novel don’t bother checking it out. I found it very disappointing.). So there was some hype behind the previous winner of the Pulitzer Prize Special Citations and Awards. I wanted to start reading as soon as I possibly could. So that night I did, I slipped away into my room without eating dinner and read the first 150 pages. Eventually finishing it in less than a month.
This book was riveting, it shook me to the core. The author, Alex Haley, took us to West Africa. Specifically Gambia, the birth place of Kunta Kinte, son of Binta and Omoro Kinte. He guided us through this character’s childhood and life in Africa for a good portion of the book. Adding a enthralling touch of detail to everything Kunta saw, heard, smelled, and touched. The sound of the African Jungle, the herding of goats, and the way the younger children of Jufureh (along with all children from many villages) would rush towards people trekking by the village as visitors. He taught us about the Kamby-Bolongo and how everyone in Jufureh would have a specific job that they are expected to follow everyday. Taking us through the training to become a man (oh, how terrible the cutting of the foto must of been) and how he wanted a drum to beat on so badly.
But after the first few hundred pages, everything went down hill and fast. While going into the jungle to gather supplies for his drums he was attacked by a group of white men known to him as Toubab. Soon enough, we got a taste of what it felt like to be stuffed into a ship with many other Africans from different descents. Each speaking different languages, not knowing who the man besides them were, covered in their own urine and excrement. The only time they would truly get to see sunlight was when they would be let out on the top of the ship to get washed up and dance while secretly communicating with one another through singing.
It was a terrible journey filled of much violence, and not many of those African men made it out alive. Kunta was one of the lucky ones that made it, but at the same time he was truly unlucky because what came next he would never forget. After attempting to escape multiple times he ended up having half his foot cut off. After this the story takes you on a roller coaster ride of happiness and sadness. From terrible rape scenes, to a sense of happiness after they’re all eventually freed. I don’t want to spoil anything more because the story is better told through Alex Haley’s fantastic writing rather than my little summation of it. But this book was definitely worth the thirteen dollars I spent for it.