12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup is a heart-stopping thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat while still informing you on the horrific truth of slavery. The novel really gave me a sense of gratefulness for what I have. I found myself, throughout the novel, taking an evaluation of my life and realizing how many things I take for granted on a daily basis, without even knowing! Which, in my opinion, makes this novel even more unique because Northup isn’t just informing readers about the truths and facts of slavery, he is taking one step further and stepping into their lives.
The novel begins with Northup foreshadowing future events and telling us his backstory, which was helpful because it kept me from getting confused. Solomon Northup, a free man of color, has reached a pretty good spot in his life: a good paying job, a loving wife, and two beautiful children. Until one day, he decides to join a circus act to make even more money for his family, and leaves without a trace. The next thing he knows, he is in chains and is eventually sold into slavery. Solomon encounters many friendly slaves to keep him company, but meets even more grisly slave owners. He travels along this horrific journey of survival with only the spirit of God to help him along the way. And he learns that, sometimes you just need bravery to stay alive.
Even though Northup gives us the information that he is rescued in the end and returns to his peaceful life, he doesn’t say how it happened. In my opinion, I thought he gave away just enough information to keep me drawn in as the novel and plot progressed. Northup’s style of writing is very blunt and straight to the point. He also knows how to play with your emotions in very powerful ways. He makes each upcoming chapter even more interesting than the previous one because he also adds in a lot of foreshadowing to keep the reader wondering what will happen next. This novel instantly caught my interest due to the fact that it was about slavery. If you are a person that enjoys the topic of slavery, I certainly recommend this novel to you. It truly gives you a sense of reality back then without sugarcoating anything or “leaving out” anything. Northup’s style of writing and the way he incorporates his little twist on wording things, truly makes this novel a masterpiece of literature.