Review

Review: WAKE: The Hidden History of Women Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall illustrated by Hugo Martinez

Genre: Graphic Memoir
Pages: 208
Published: June 1, 2021
Rate: 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads Synopsis
Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the Middle Passage. They fought their enslavers throughout the Americas. And then they were erased from history.

Wake tells the story of Dr. Rebecca Hall, a historian, granddaughter of slaves, and a woman haunted by the legacy of slavery. The accepted history of slave revolts has always told her that enslaved women took a back seat. But Rebecca decides to look deeper, and her journey takes her through old court records, slave ship captain’s logs, crumbling correspondence, and even the forensic evidence from the bones of enslaved women from the “negro burying ground” uncovered in Manhattan. She finds women warriors everywhere.

Using in-depth archival research and a measured use of historical imagination, Rebecca constructs the likely pasts of Adono and Alele, women rebels who fought for freedom during the Middle Passage, as well as the stories of women who led slave revolts in Colonial New York. We also follow Rebecca’s own story as the legacy of slavery shapes life, both during her time as a successful attorney and later as a historian seeking the past that haunts her.

Illustrated beautifully in black and white, Wake will take its place alongside classics of the graphic novel genre, like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. The story of both a personal and national legacy, it is a powerful reminder that while the past is gone, we still live in its wake.

Disclaimer: A copy of the book was sent to me by Allenlanepr for review but all thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own.

My Take
Wake is a potent and thought provoking book that I absolutely loved it. The book is so moving and I was struggling to put it down.

With short, sharp statements and conversations, Rebecca Hall takes us back in time, trying to figure out who are these amazing women who led these revolts.

The illustrations are striking and enhanced my reading experience. If anything, it made it so much better.

As I read the book I could clearly see that a lot of research went into the book. Rebecca tells this story of these enslaved women so well.

Wake is part graphic novel, part memoir, that takes you back in time, past the consequences through the shadows, to bring out the legacy of these women that History doesn’t tell us about. A short book that packs quite a punch. I highly recommend it.

Do you read graphic novels? Have any recommendations?

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