Roots – the Saga of An American Family by Alex Hailey
Doubleday & Co., © 1976 hardcover, 688 pages
I well remember when there was a huge amount of press and discussion about this book, it’s rise on the bestseller list, the many, many reviews. Then the mini-series was made and shown on television. I watched that, a segment a week, fascinated. After that there was no way I could pass it up. I bought it, read it through and very much enjoyed it. The book had much more detail than the mini-series, though that seemed detailed at the time.
It has been on the shelf ever since that time, and I decided to re-read it. No special reason, just took it down and started reading. I found the first section, Kunta Kinte’s life as a boy growing up in Africa, of some interest, but read quickly through it (meaning I skimmed now and then). After his capture, I read with interest of the trials and suffering of the journey across the Atlantic Ocean, his sale in Virginia, his first decade as a slave. For me, this was the most interesting part of the book.
After that my interest began to wane. By the time we reached the third generation, I was bored and skimming chunks of the book. I remembered much of it and kind of knew what was happening and was going to happen, I just wasn’t interested enough to pay close attention. I even put the book down several times to read other things, including two very good books, one a short story collection, the other a mystery novel.
Finally I made it to the end. The only part I read straight through was part of Chicken George’s time with his Massa and then leaving and returning to disaster. After that it was pretty much all downhill, so I coasted it to the finish.
I guess I’m glad I read it, but it’s going into a box in the basement, no longer taking shelf space on the dining room wall with most of the other hardcovers. Who knows, I may pull it out again in a few years and give it another go, but I doubt it. With this one, I think twice is enough.