Washington Black

Washington Black

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born. When his master's eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or "Titch," is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist. He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash's head, Titch abandons everything to save him. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780525563242
0525563245
9780525521426
0525521429
Characteristics: 333 pages ; 25 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Really really good!

Suggested by Lisa, Collection Services Manager - This is the Whatcom READS 2021 title and it's going to make for a great discussion book. I'm only about halfway through, but it's been fascinating to follow Washington Black on his journey from a Barbados cane sugar plantation slave to world trave... Read More »

2021 Selection

2021 selection

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WCLSBlaineLibrary Aug 13, 2019

The young Washington Black can only anticipate a bleak future as a plantation slave until the owner's younger brother arrives in need of an assistant for his scientific work. Washington is thrown into adventure after adventure while wrestling with his past and uncovering abilities he never knew ... Read More »


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m
mmyjer20
Sep 21, 2020

I liked this book. The author writes well. The story could've been a bit more exciting as you were lead to believe that the boy would be taken on many more adventures in the balloon. But I liked it.

m
MaggieBrooklyn
Sep 13, 2020

historical fiction--bookriot list of 50 best historical fiction https://bookriot.com/best-historical-fiction-books/

a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

There are brutal details of life on the slave plantation at the beginning of the book. Wash's life does get better, but be warned that the start of it makes for tough reading.

j
Jenkskitten
Aug 06, 2020

A great story of an eight year old slave boy from Barbados growing into manhood. He encounters prejudice, fear, betrayal, scorn, tragedies and rejection, along with a God given talent, direction by welling meaning people, a scientific mind, travel and excitement. The author does an excellent job of describing G.W. ( Wash) Black's feeling and emotions throughout his life's adventures. Easy read and hard to put down. Reason for not a 5 star rating was the abrupt ending.

0Charlie Jul 14, 2020

I'm not quite sure how to describe this work. I was carried along with the adventures of the main character, Wash, a young black slave on a plantation in the Barbados in the early 1800's. He ends up travelling across the globe and I was fascinated with the historic details of Barbados, early Canada, the Far North, Britain, the Middle East. The driving force behind most of these adventures is his relationship with Titch, a well-to-do white Brit and scientist, who takes Wash under his wing and helps him to discover his potential. My problem is I'm not sure how the story ends. After the concrete tales of travel and exploration, the final "wrap-up" becomes so intangible that it is a bit of a slap in the face when the story just ends. Certainly worth the read but I guess I'm not deep enough to understand the finale.

s
soublaki
Mar 13, 2020

This is an exceptional work of modern literature that I couldn’t put down. I felt a deep empathy for the protagonist Washington whose journey through slavery and beyond takes the reader on a voyage across land and seas towards self-actualization as an adult black man in a changing world.

b
Blabbermouth
Feb 07, 2020

This story about Washington Black starts when he is an eleven year old slave in a Barbados sugar cane plantation. Two brothers are the white owners, one kind, one sadistic & cruel. The kind one shows favour to Washington & eventually they both end up escaping the Island but that puts Washington being hunted & unsafe anywhere, he is also abandoned by the kind brother almost immediately.
There were no characters that were believable for me & no one had any appeal including Washington Black who was the narrator of the story.

g
gloryb
Jan 18, 2020

The beginning of the story reminded me of a young adult novel I had read 10 years ago called, "Octavian Nothing" where a black child is educated by a white scientist. The story was interesting until the end of the Arctic expedition and then it became less interesting with a recital of events that happened next in the black teen's life. The narration is told in the first person from the perspective of the 18 year old black teen, but the "voice" seems much older - more like that of the author. The plot of this book also reminds me of the plots of "quest books" or fantasy books where the main character goes on a journey to seek a goal and along the way he is helped by a number of people. The book does shed another perspective behind the motives of anti-slavery organizations.

r
rslade
Dec 25, 2019

The writing, overall, is beautiful and evocative. But the plotting is random, and the characters, particularly the central character and narrator, are inconsistent and even contradictory. This makes it a difficult and demanding read.

d
dlennett
Dec 13, 2019

Start on p. 59

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Quotes

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a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

I had been warned by Mister Ibel that snow was white, and cold. But it was not white: it held all the colours of the spectrum. It was blue and green and yellow and teal; there were delicate pink tintings in some of the cliffs as we passed. As the light shifted in the sky, so too did the snow around us deepen, find new hues, the way an ocean is never blue but some constantly changing colour.

a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

Though a child, I did not picture a monster – he was no creature all teeth, all vicious blue eyes behind mangled wire spectacles; his voice was not slow and reptilian, his hands not huge black claws. I knew the nature of evil; I knew its benign, easy face. He would be a man, simply.

a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

It was a wonder to me that a world of cruelty and hardship existed, even now, only some miles away. How was it possible, thought I, that we lived in such nightmare and all the while a world of men continued just over the horizon . . .

a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

She seemed neither preoccupied nor uneasy; her silence was marked by a held-in rage that I have only now, several years later, come to understand as the suppression of will. For she was a ferociously intelligent woman, and it strained her to have to conceal it. She sometimes spoke as no slave should speak; the scar on her face was some testament to this.

s
shayshortt
Sep 12, 2018

I carried that nail like a shard of darkness in my fist. I carried it like a secret, like a crack through which some impossible future might be glimpsed. I carried it like a key.

Summary

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g
GVorauer
Apr 06, 2019

Too brutal, too disturbing - not bedtime reading.

s
shayshortt
Sep 12, 2018

Born into slavery on Faith Plantation in Bardbados, George Washington Black has never known any other life. When his master dies, the slaves expect the estate to be broken up and sold off, but instead two brother arrive, nephews of the old owner. Erasmus Wilde proves to be a cruel man who drives his slaves harder than the old owner ever did. But his brother, Christopher “Titch” Wilde, is a man of science, and while the other slaves on Faith are doomed to a harder lot, Wash is selected to help Titch with his experiments, and his seemingly impossible dream to launch an airship called the Cloud Cutter. However, being selected as Titch’s assistant will come at a price Wash could never have expected, and their strange, uneven relationship will change the course of Wash’s life forever, for better and for worse.

Notices

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a
andreareads
Aug 23, 2020

Violence: violence and suicide

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