The Book of Night Women, by Marlon James. Riverhead Books, 2009.

Book of night womenAt the turn of the 18th Century in Jamaica, Lilith is born to a teen slave-child, black as black, but with startling green eyes. Her young mother does not survive the birth, and Lilith is placed with a retired slave woman to be raised. But those green eyes prove she is a member of a select sisterhood with a destiny far beyond the daily labors of a "field nigger." At a time when slave rebellions are happening frequently, Lilith is educated about the ways and facts of servitude on a sugar plantation, and is She is also taught to read, a skill taught in the dark, at night, for fear of being discovered. Ultimately, when she is old enough, she is invited to attend the monthly meetings of the "night women." At a time far removed from today's texting, tweeting and live television coverage, when slaves were not permitted to ride horses nor to leave the plantation unaccompanied, the word is still able to get around ...

The author, who is himself Jamaican, uses strong, graphic language to capture the humor, pathos, grit, and cruelty of the plantation and its people. And because I have family in Jamaica, I know the Jamaican cadence of his characters' voices is completely authentic. After reading this book, I understand a little more about the attitudes of my family, and you will understand why slavery needed to be abolished.