Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. ebook. HarperPerennial Classics.
In 1841 Solomon Northup was a free black man living in New York State with his wife and three children. After accompanying two white men to Washington for a job, he was drugged and sold south as a slave. When he told his master he had been kidnapped and was a free man, he was beaten so severely he learned to never breathe a word of his free status to anyone. Renamed Platt, and assigned a place amongst his master’s slaves on a cotton plantation in Louisiana, he was forced to endure this life for twelve years.
During his slave years, Solomon experienced all the beatings and horrors known to the black men, women and children who had the misfortune to be owned by another human. Readers may have witnessed some of these crimes against humanity through reading Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and from Alex Haley’s family history in “Roots.” However “Twelve Years a Slave” takes crimes committed by slave owners against their slaves a step further than these other novels because Solomon’s own hand penned these words from his own memories in 1853 when he was finally rescued. Reading of the pain he endured as a slave for twelve years serves to humanize those long lost to history and remind readers to never allow this dark period of America’s history to be repeated.
“Twelve Years a Slave” won awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2014 Oscars. Solomon’s story is an engrossing historical and educational read which should be on the shelves of every high school, public and college library.
Recommended for 18 years and older.