Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: Book of Negroes CBC Miniseries

Hello! Today I come to talk about a book and a book to screen adaptation, specifically Book of Negroes, which is originally a book by Lawrence Hill. I read it initially in grade 11, so I didn't remember the plot, but I did remember enjoying it and eventually being drawn into the story and the characters. 

Over 6 weeks in January, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) aired a mini series that was based on the book. It was 6 parts, each part an hour. Since sometimes when book-to-film adaptations come out, bookish people write blog posts on them, I thought I'd do a review of this mini series! 

So, the Book of Negroes storyline covers the life a girl, Aminata, from her life in her African village in Guinea, and her experience being taken from her home and being sold as a slave across the ocean. The story is then her story of struggle as she travels and tries to find her way back to her loved ones and her home, all the while fighting for her life. If you've never read the Book of Negroes, you really should. It's a very interesting history of the slave trade, and I think that is something important to know about. I know that it you could learn about it from a textbook, but when it is from the perspective of a character, in this case Aminata, you get to see how her personal life was affected and you can empathize with her. Aminata herself is an amazing, strong character and she never gives up a fight and always stands up for herself and those she loves. 

I suppose it's a bit easier to adapt a book (quite a long one too) into a 6 hour series rather than a movie, but CBC did so well with this one. I didn't remember the book much, which may have helped me not to be too judgmental of discrepancies. But what I did remember - the intense story of struggle that Aminata went through and how she fought with everything she had to get through hard times - that was all included in the mini series. Each hour long episode, despite being an hour, never felt like it was long enough. The plot moved along at a quick pace and there was enough interesting twists that it was easy to get caught up in the story and be moved along. Everything made sense and fit together well, although of course some of the plot points were devastating for Aminata, and that was hard to watch. 

The various characters were also very well rounded and interesting, especially Aminata. Sometimes when I read a book or watch a film where the characters are fascinated by this one character and say that she's special all the time and that she's destined for great things, I can't help but roll my eyes and think, oh whatever, she's not that special (*cough*Divergent*cough*). But not with Aminata. She is so strong-willed and tough, you can't help but cheer for her all the way through and think yes, yes, of course she's going to do great things. Not only that but you want more people to see her brilliance for what it is - although of course, the sad thing is with racism, her strength and intelligence are often discounted because of her skin colour. 

Aminata was not the only interesting character, however. I don't know how characters were introduced in each episode, but it was still heartbreaking to leave each one when the time came. Of course, this was also probably because of the relationships that Aminata cultivated with people, always so open and compassionate. 

The Book of Negroes mini series kept me (and my best friend who I watched it with) clutching our blankets the whole way through, and crying with Aminata through her ups and downs. Especially the last episode, there were so many heartbreaking things that happened. 

The Book of Negroes is more than just a simple story of a black slave during the time of the slave trade. It is an important and interesting story of a strong-willed young woman's life. I hope you will check out the mini series, and dive into a fuller understanding of the slave trade while you are wrapped up in Aminata and her story.

You can find the Book of Negroes mini series on CBC here, and it is also on BET here. I believe it is also on iTunes. 

If you want to check out the book, you can find it on Goodreads here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

Gary D. Schmidt sure can write a beautiful book, and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy is no exception.

I think my favourite thing about Gary D. Schmidt's writing is how he weaves natural imagery into his stories, and he does it so, so brilliantly. In Lizzie Bright he uses the island and the whales that swim around the island to add to the depth and emotion of the story. The way he uses these natural elements in his books provides another deep layer of meaning to the story.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster boy is set in Maine in 1912, and it is about the eviction of a black community from the island of Malaga off the coast of Maine. It's based on a true story, and Gary D. Schmidt writes it as terribly heart wrenching as a young white boy from Phippsburg, Maine makes friends with a young black girl, Lizzie Bright, who lives on the island with her grandpa. The writing is simple, clear, and smooth and so is the storyline. Gary D. Schmidt gets emotions across so well, both from his characters and from his reader (yeah, maybe I cried).

This is a beautiful and important book that made me think, and you should definitely check it out, especially if you want your heart broken, but in a good way.

Find it on Goodreads here and Gary D. Schmidt's website here.

Monday, February 2, 2015

4 Places I Want to Visit Because of Books

Some books just have the most fascinating settings, you can't help but want to visit the places their settings are based off of. Here are some places I want to travel to and the books that make me want to travel there!

1. Wales

A lot of Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle is filled with Welsh mythology. Anyway one of the big parts of the series is how one of the characters, Gansey, is obsessed with his search for the Welsh king Glendower. I follow Maggie on Twitter and a few months ago she visited Wales and posted pictures and it is so gorgeous.

2. Virginia

This is also a place I want to visit as a result of reading The Raven Cycle, which is actually set in Virginia. The landscape sounds so pretty, and the few pictures Maggie has posted look amazing. It just looks like such a pretty place to go, and it's somewhere not a lot of people choose as a travel destination.

3. Russia

Shadow and Bone and the rest of the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo made me a lot more interested in Russia. I mean, the covers alone portray some of the architecture and beauty that are inspired by Russia. I also just think it'd be really interesting to travel to Russia, since it's a country that I don't know a lot about.

4. Amsterdam

Despite everything that irks me about The Fault in Our Stars, it does make Amsterdam seem like a pretty fun and interesting place to visit. As long as the idiotic Van Houten stays far away from me, I would love to visit the Anne Frank house or any other historical attraction I could find in this beautiful city.

What places do you want to visit because of books? 


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