Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After reading The Book of Negroes and more recently The Illegal, I decided to give Lawrence Hill's older novel Any Known Blood a try.
Truly, Hill does not disappoint. I found Book of Negroes engrossing and just the right amount of uncomfortable to read. The Illegal was a completely different pace (a slow burn) but I also enjoyed it. Once again, Any Known Blood keeps the bar high.
The novel's protagonist Langston Cane the Fifth decides he is not tethered in this world because he knows nothing of his family's background. He travels from Oakville, ON to Baltimore, Maryland in an effort to dig into his family's past. He leaves behind a father who he feels is constantly disappointed in him.
Jumping through all the Langston Canes from 1 to 5, there isn't any predictability to the book in terms of form. Hill does not opt to write about the Canes down the family tree from senior to junior, but rather dances from one character to the next. We slowly discover all the choices that the Cane's have made that have bound them together and created their future.
To be honest, the novel isn't full a huge climax. There isn't one big AHA moment that is revealed. Rather, we watched as Langston Cane V slowly finds his way in the world as he unveils the secrets his family has hidden over time.
Hill writes about many deep rooted issues that African-Americans are facing today in a way that includes white people in the dialogue but in a non-accusatory manner. I assume this is partially Hill speaking from his own experience of being a mixed race. Either way, it was enlightening to read and understand why or how people feel a certain way.
4/5 for more excellent work from Hill and holding my breath for more.
(Incidentally, he lives in the same city I do and I once saw him shopping at our local grocery store. Must...not...stalk him.)
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