Roots is the story of one family through six generations starting with Kunta Kinte, an African man who is taken forcibly from his home and sent overseas to America to work as a slave for a white man. Angry for what has been done to him, Kunta tries several times to escape only to be brought back. The final time ends him with half a foot and hobbling around the plantation owner’s garden. From there, we see him come to the realization that he’s not alone in the fight against his situation, that the other African Americans want to be free as well but are unable to find a way out.
From there, we seem him start a family and watch as his family is torn apart, flowing seamlessly from one generation to the next until the day Alex Haley, the author is born. We watch him as he researches his family’s origins, discovers the places that his family traveled to, and cry in relief when he reaches the home where it all began.
Roots is not only a story about slavery, it’s a story of where it all began. It tells the story of pride and strength and holding onto the roots when others have forgotten their own story. I thought it was cool that Alex Haley’s family was able to pass down information such as Kunta Kinte and his African words for over a century and in harsh conditions. Not many black Americans today can say they remember where in Africa their ancestors came from. It was amazing he could have as many people as he did to share with millions of others. It gives a voice to those who can’t have their own story.
I’m torn with the way the book has been written. I think it’s a good story, but seemed dragged out in some places. I would say that in some scenes, the characters act too “holier than thou.” I don’t want to say racist, but there’s a lot of judgment on how dark a person is. It bugs me that the characters are so judgmental when they’d suffered at the hands of judgment and prejudice for so long, which makes me scratch my head. I know this happens every day on all sides of the front, but it’s just weird to me. It’s good to know another side of the story tho.
Other than that, I found the story to be interesting and meaningful. If you want to start your journey through slavery and Civil War, this would be a good one to start. And it won the Pulitzer Prize, as well!