One of the first personal narratives written by an ex-slave, this is also one of the few written by a woman. Harriet Jacobs (1813-97) was enslaved, along with her family, in North Carolina under a ruthless master who sexually harassed her. After several failed escape attempts, and several years of hiding, she finally made her way North to freedom, where she was eventually reunited with her children. The book was published in 1861.
Literate Harriet Jacobs escaped from slavery after many tries, finally freeing herself of a cruel, sexually abusive master. Jacobs survived to write and expose the horrors of life in slavery. Her autobiography substantiates the abuse endured by female slaves. Jacobs writes about her past with an almost academic detachment. Having survived she evolves into a historian, bent on accurately recording the damning truth for the purpose of social indictment. Narrator Jean Barrett’s calm conversational tone matches Jacobs’ understated language. Just like Jacobs, Barrett sounds educated and self-possessed. There is subdued passion in her voice, but no hysteria. Barrett’s precise speech and ironically polite oration underscores the miserable details of what Jacobs endured and triumphed over.
"One of the major autobiographies of the African American tradition." (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)
"Harriet Jacobs in her narrative reveals how she refused to be victimized within her own mind, but rather chose to act instead from a steadfast conviction of her own worth.... Hers is an example worth emulating even in these modern times." (Louise Meriwether)
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Yes, I would recommend this book in audio format. No matter where I am, my place in the book is always kept for me.
I loved Harriet and her voice. She says the words that she was thinking. Her pain is evidenced when she faces challenges thrust upon her family by the evil doctor.
The part where she hid under the stairs or crawlspace knowing she cold not let her family know where she was---for that action would place them in danger.
It made me somber in reflecting the true journey of American slaves.
This book was especially wonderful to read in February, Black History Month. Now I will read another true story called "12 Years a Slave". A real appreciation for the history of African American brothers and sisters whose stories were silenced but now are loud and proud. A story that needs to be told and lessons to be learned.
- Beverly E. Van Citters
A precious perspective
This first-person perspective had me using the dictionary feature on the Kindle several times. Very eloquent and honest. I'm glad this story was recorded so we can all enjoy it for decades to come.
Barrett's narration brings the story to life in a way that makes you want to give Harriet Jacobs a hug afterward!
I couldn't pull myself away. I normally don't listen to Audible during the weekend, but this story didn't let me go!
Add this story to your list. Jacobs attitude isn't about racism, it's about how we can fight to make this world a better place for our children. She speaks of how different the people around her would be without "the demon of Slavery" rather than judge others. What an example.