Twelve Years a Slave – Book 3

Source: Amazon UK

I’ve heard lots about the film and the book itself received 4.5 stars overall from more than 1500 reviews on Amazon UK. Hence, I thought it would be a good read although it wasn’t a genre I would normally choose.

It was heart-wrenching that a man born free was tortured under the unforgiving, inhuman hands of his masters. I couldn’t imagine brutality that he had to go through, neither could I understand how anyone could think that they have a right to own, buy and sell another man.

The book got me thinking about helpers or maids in Singapore. While most people I know respect their maids, I’ve seen and heard how others have treated theirs. Some employers seem to think that they own the lives of their domestic helpers simply because they pay a pathetic monthly stipend, provide clothes and food. Some yell at their helpers as though they’re speaking to animals (even animals are treated better at times), order them about, restrict their freedom (no rest days, no mobiles, not allowed to make friends with their fellow countrymen) and not allowed to eat together at the dining table. It pains my heart whenever I see maids treated this way.

Anyway, I digress. It was definitely a captivating story as I don’t really have much knowledge about the history of slavery. Despite it being a moving story, I found bits and pieces of it to be repetitive and hard to get through. The description of what went on in cotton fields and cane farming, though informative, was not exactly interesting to read as it wasn’t captivating for me. The writing style in those chapters were factual and not engaging for me.

Nonetheless, it was still a sad story of a man who lost his freedom. It portrayed the harsh reality of trafficking slaves back in those days and the brutality they had to go through on a daily basis.


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