Roots, by Alex Hailey

Cover ImageFinished Audio 10-23-11, rating 5/5, fiction, 729 pages, pub. 1976

Unabridged audio. 30 hours. Read by Avery Brooks

What is there left to say about this book that hasn’t already been said?  It still resonates today and is just as powerful as when it was first published.  Even before I touch on the story itself I want to heap praises on the narrator, Avery Brooks.  He was perfect and made the 30 hours just fly by (okay, maybe an exaggeration but I’m not taking it back).  I tried to reference the book here and there for clarification, but found when I went to the book it was jarring.  I just wanted to listen to Brooks!

I think everyone has heard of Kunta Kinte, the African boy who was kidnapped from his small village in the Gambia and sold into slavery in America.  I was so caught up in his village life that I was not only horrified by his kidnapping but also mad that the story had to leave that charming village full of people I wanted to spend more time with.

Kunta came to America, an African among American blacks, on the Virginia plantation.  He didn’t understand their ways just as they didn’t understand his even though they were all living the same enslaved experience.   Kunta eventually learned to make friends and even find love.  When his daughter Kizzy was born he and his wife were held in very high regard as was their daughter which made what happened next all the more awful.

This books follows many generations of Kunta Kinte (born in 1750), the most time being spent with Kunta, his daughter Kizzy and her son Chicken George.  The otherwise ordinary lives were made extraordinary in this family saga.  Not only are they important people because they represent whole generations but because their stories are the stories of this country, warts and all.  It’s as much a story of America’s history as any other novel I’ve read.  It made me laugh and made me sad, brought me to tears and left me disgusted, and it never failed to keep riveted.

This book is based on Alex Haley’s own ancestors and their stories.  It was first published as non-fiction, but some historical accuracies were discovered and it’s now marketed as fiction.  Haley also settled a plagiarism suit where he admitted to copying whole passages from another book.  I admit, that these charges made me look at the book differently when I read about it after the fact.  Should the plagiarism stop me from giving this book a 5 rating?  Probably, but after I gave it some thought I decided to just rate based on my reading/listening experience and it was powerful.

I hope to watch the mini-series soon.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by CeeCee, Staci, Jennifer, Sarah, and Angie.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Amazing historical novel about Africa and American slavery.”  Sarah

“You won’t regret reading this.”  Jennifer

“You have to read this because it is IMPORTANT!!!”  Staci

“Seen the series never read this book but it’s in my TBR pile too.”  Angie

15 thoughts on “Roots, by Alex Hailey

  1. Nise' says:

    I loved this book and mini-series. I remember walking to a friends house during a blizzard so we could watch it together. Love to listen to the audio book.

  2. Thoughts of Joy says:

    I just put the audio version on hold! It’ll be sent to my library. Don’t know if I’ll listen to it, but I’ll have it if the mood strikes. 🙂

    Also, I forgot to mention, I didn’t know about all the non-fiction/fiction stuff. When I was requesting the audio, the libraries had it under both. Interesting. And, plagiarism?!? I didn’t know that either!

  3. stacilifeinthethumb says:

    So glad that you loved this one too. It’s such an epic and powerful story. I may have to read this one again….I was in high school when I read it. I remember watching the mini-series with my parents.

  4. Stephanie D. says:

    I didn’t even know about the plagiarism suit. Yikes! But it didn’t seem to take away from your enjoyment and appreciation of this book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s