‘A story of love, hope and resilience rippling through the generations..’
– The Book of Echoes
[ About the Book ]
Narrated by the soul of an African slave woman, who giving thanks at a shrine in Africa over two hundred years ago, tosses her infant son to safety moments before she is hauled away by slavers.
After a brutal sea passage, her baby girl is snatched steaming from her loins as she gives birth. Although she doesn’t know it yet, her spirit is destined to roam the earth in search of her lost children.
She will make her way to England where Michael is trying to stay out of trouble as riots spit and boil down the streets of South London, and all the way to a sun-baked village in Nigeria, where a servant girl named Ngozi struggles to escape her low-caste status.
As the invisible threads that draw her to these lives are pulled ever tighter, The Book of Echoes asks: how can we overcome the traumas of the past when they are woven, so inextricably, with the present?
[ My Review ]
The Book of Echoes is one that has taken Rosanna Amaka over twenty years to complete. Originally written with the intent of giving a voice to the Brixton community, Rosanna Amaka’s community, one that was disappearing before her eyes, The Book of Echoes has just been published (February 27th) with Doubleday Books.
‘The book is about life, pain and hope and was inspired by a wish to understand the impact of history on present-day lives and the journey of her ancestors’
Described as a book ‘humming with horror and beauty‘, The Book of Echoes is a truly sweeping novel that takes the reader into an unimaginable world of cruelty, pain, hope and strength. It is an epic tale, one that will anger, upset and uplift the reader, an important book.
Michael is struggling to make his way in Brixton. Traumatised by life-affecting events in his youth, Michael’s decision for his future is clouded by his past. With every move he makes, he gets deeper into difficulty. He is caught between wanting to succeed, making a better life for himself and his younger sister, and doing the right thing. Michael has had to be the strong one from his teenage years leaving Michael challenged daily with making the right choices. But sometimes Michael makes the wrong one and sometimes these decisions come with a very high price. We get an insight into the terrors that follow Michael. His frustrations and pain, and the unending walls placed in front of him. Michael gets tired of fighting against society. Michael is exhausted but can he keep up the fight. Can he continue on where his ancestors left off many, many years ago?
“You have to peel back the layers in Michael to find the truth.
Unknowingly he held a baton of scars, passed all the way down from his great-great-grandmother, who lay in the bowels of a slave ship, wishing for death, fighting for life“
Ngozi is born in a small village in Africa. Her mother struggles to keep things afloat. Surrounded by poverty and stigma, a decision is made to send Ngozi to the town to work as an inhouse maid and to futher her education. Her mother truly believes that this is the right thing to do to secure the best future possible for Ngozi. Her mother wants Ngozi to be educated and capable, to learn the tools necessary to survive in this harsh and very tough climate. Ngozi’s journey begins bright and hopeful but after awhile her path takes a very dark turn indeed. Faced with a horror and experiences that no child should ever be exposed to, Ngozi does all she can to stay sane and to stay alive. Her family depend on her, her siblings need the money she sends home, leaving Ngozi with some very difficult and life-changing choices to makes. Ngozi is a fighter but sometimes the punches come too fast to avoid the inevitable impact, the inevitable collapse. Can Ngozi get back up? Can she walk tall again with pride in the shadows of her ancestors?
“It was her eyes that held me the night she came yelling into this world. Those big bright eyes shaped like teardrops, which reminded me of my baby girl. I’m telling you Ngozi fought to be born into this dirt”
The stories of Michael and Ngozi are very different but there is an invisible thread woven across generations that continues to weave around their lives. With the voice of an African slave woman narrating throughout, the reader is given an insight into the brutality and the heinous crimes of the past. A shudder ran through me as I read about the treacherous journey and the merciless treatment of a people forcefully removed from their homes, their families never to return. Death was swift for some, for others it was a torturous crossing, a hideous and unthinkable passage across the seas into an unknown future. Rosanna Amaka’s portrayal of those days is gut-wrenching, so full of sorrow and pain.
The Book of Echoes is an extremely affecting tale. Now I did struggle at times with the dialect but the story kept my hooked, compelled, to read more about Michael and Ngozi, about their past, their present and their future. It is shocking. It is powerful. It is insightful. It is educational. From the early 1800s to the 1980s and beyond, the reader is swept off their feet and taken on a heartrending journey from Nigeria to London. The smells and the sounds are wonderfully captured, with Rosanna Amaka taking the reader on a very visual journey.
The Book of Echoes is cinematic in it’s portrayal of the lives of all the characters and the circumstances they faced. Rosanna Amaka’s passion for her heritage and her future is evident throughout. It really is a fascinating and insightful read of a culture and a people with a richness throughout the narrative.
[ Bio ]
Rosanna Amaka grew up in South London and is of African and Caribbean heritage. As a child she loved writing short stories later progressing to novels, which she has spent many years crafting.
THE BOOK OF ECHOES is her debut novel. She began writing it over twenty years ago, to give voice to the Brixton community in which she grew up in, and reflects some of the changes that have happened in the community over time. The book is about life, pain and hope and was inspired by a wish to understand the impact of history on present-day lives and the journey of her ancestors.
She is currently hard at work on other writings.
Twitter ~ @RosannaAmaka
Website ~ http://rosannaamaka.com/