It begins with a child's birth in Africa. His parents name him Kunta Kinte, a strong, proud boy who later in life is kidnapped and taken to America to be sold into slavery. Roots follows his clan through seven generations, ending with Alex Haley himself. The book tells, in fascinating detail, the lives of Kunta Kinte, Kizzy Waller, "Chicken George" Lea, Tom Murray, Will Palmer, Simon Alexander Haley, and finally, the author. Throughout the book, African culture, as well as the culture of Americanized slaves, is introduced. One part of the book that especially grabbed my attention is a vivid, heart-wrenching description of the Middle Passage, describing the horrors that Africans experience on their trip into bondage.
Roots brings to life the heartbreak of slavery, families being separated and sold, which causes the reader to take another look at their culture and family. It compels all who read it to appreciate what they have. This novel emphasizes the importance of heritage, of knowing that our descendants are still alive in spirit, and that they have left a legacy for us to fulfill.
Even though Roots is not for those who desire immediate gratification, with its extensive detail, my opinion is that the literary experience is well worth the length. I would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy thought-provoking literature, interspersed with lessons of hope, faith in loved ones, and joy in family, and to those who desire to learn more about the life of a slave
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.