The last thing I thought I needed was another slavery story. It’s hot girl summer and I’m trying to live my best care-free black girl life!
However, when I heard about Esi Edugyan’s novel Washington Black, a novel about a slave who is loaned out to his slaveowners more merciful but flighty brother to help him build a hot air balloon and eventually escapes his servitude, I was intrigued and decided to check it out. I can’t resist a good story.
So what happened?
George Washington Black was born into slavery in Barbados on a sugar plantation owned by the cruel Erasmus Wilde. Wash narratives the story as he reflects on his life.
One day, he and the woman who raises him, Kit, are called into the big house and find his the slave owner’s visiting brother, Titch at dinner. Titch requests that his brother allow Wash to help him with his experiments. Titch has abolitionist-leaning views and treats Wash like an apprentice and teaches Wash to read and the math and science knowledge he would need to assist. Twitch’s cousin Phillip visits to deliver family news and cause chaos in Wash’s life. After an unfortunate event that Wash would have received the blame for, Titch decides the only way to save Wash is for them to escape on the hot air balloon. After an escape with several near misses, Wash has to learn what it means to be a man free from slavery but still bonded but racism and social structure.
You like a book with some twists. The book is compelling from the start.