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WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan

George Washington “Wash” Black begins life as a slave in 1830s Barbados.  His life radically changes when Titch, the plantation owner’s brother, selects Wash to serve as ballast for his hot air balloon.  A whole host of adventures ensue, including an explosion that renders Wash severely disfigured.  Titch becomes Wash’s protector, but Wash has a mighty talent for drawing that proves very helpful in Titch’s investigations of plant and animal life.  When Wash witnesses a suicide, he and Titch flee Barbados, as it is likely that Wash will be implicated as a murderer.  The remainder of the book is full of unlikely coincidences and adventures that occur all over the world.   Although there are some grim scenes at the beginning of this novel, it is not generally about the horrific mistreatment of slaves.  It’s about a boy leading an improbable life on the run and ultimately pursuing a quest.  Wash is full of curiosity and awe and manages to get by on his wits and his artistic ability.  Some reviewers have suggested that Wash is searching for identity and freedom, but I saw it as a search for family. He strives to be accepted and treated as an equal.  For some years after he and Titch become separated his life is very solitary, largely due to his terror of being captured and sent back to Barbados.  He is a memorable and lovable character who


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WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan

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