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During a storm on a slave ship, a kind-hearted if desperate captain named Josiah hears the voice of his dead wife instructing him to take one of the slaves and hide her and the child she carries.
Amina, a slave woman, walks waist-deep into a river and is asked by a dead woman she never knew to be the resting place of the woman's spirit.
Nathaniel and Ellen are in love, but they can only love each other in secret places, without touching, because Ellen is the daughter of a white plantation owner and Nathaniel is a black slave.
Ekunyado knows Josiah, his late wife Hannah, Amina, Nathaniel, Ellen, and many more people both dead and alive, because he is a spirit. In Africa, the creator god Amma has always entrusted his people to care for the spirits of the dead. Since the chalk-faced men have come to African villages, killing many and taking the survivors on boats to America, Amma has worried. His people can no longer care for the spirits of the dead, called nyama. Ekundayo has been sent to America via a young woman named Amina in hopes of bringing peace to Amma's people.
On southern plantations, the white people are talking about a man named Abraham Lincoln, just elected U.S. President, who wants to end slavery and is willing to go to war to keep the country united in spite of this divisive issue. Ekunyado's quest for peace will be very difficult, but as he moves from person to person, he sees comfort as well as sorrow and that there is still hope for peace.
Even if historical fiction isn't your favorite, this is a book worth checking out. Julius Lester's writing is beautiful and lyrical, but he is first a storyteller. You will be fascinated by Ekundayo's journey and a side of Southern slave life that you might never have known about.
Josiah, a white captain of a slave ship, agrees to help Amina, a black slave on one of his ships, in order to calm a storm. Amina is pregnant with Ekundayo, the spirit, or nyama, of her dead father. Josiah sneaks Amina off of his ship and takes her to his home, where she gives birth to Ekundayo as a young man. But Ekundayo dies shortly after and his nyama is transported into the body of Nat, a slave on a Virginia plantation. Ekundayo now must learn to live with the struggles of slavery, the forbidden love he shares with Ellen, the white plantation owner's daughter, and the brutal uprising led by Nat's father. Ekundayo also must complete his mission; he must find peace for the nyama before they destroy the land. Only after Ellen dies does Ekundayo find a solution-to share the stories of Time's memory.
Time's Memory by Julius Lester was a wonderful book with an interesting plot. Lester mixes the traditional West African religion with the spirituals of the slaves. The beginning of the book is a bit confusing and abrupt but quickly picks up and becomes a page-turner. A theme throughout the book is the sadness and pain caused by slavery and death. But the epilogue adds a happy ending to the story. This book is great for anyone who likes to read historical fiction.
Reviewed by a student reviewer for Flamingnet Book Reviews
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