Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself

Zest. Mar. 2023. 216p. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781728464077.
Gr 7 Up–Olaudah Equiano, born in West Africa in 1745, was captured and enslaved as a preteen and forced to work at sea. He was afforded unique opportunities while enslaved, taught to read, and able to earn wages. At 21, Equiano bought his freedom. After this, he often swore off working at sea only to find he had no other way to support himself. The authors don’t shy away from Equiano’s complicated relationship with slavery; he often had to work on ships carrying enslaved Africans. In 1789, he published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which became very popular and is still in print today. With this success, he was finally able to support himself and family away from the sea. He went on to become one of the most influential antislavery activists in England. Using text found in his autobiography, Edinger and Younge recreate Equiano’s life story as a found verse narrative. In this form, the story makes for compelling reading that moves quickly. The story is broken up with useful sidebars giving background information. It is well documented with a time line, glossary, source notes, bibliography, and further reading.
VERDICT This important and unique work introduces this pivotal man to a new audience and will make for interesting classroom discussions. Strongly recommended.

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