Book Review–The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs



This is the 14th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.


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The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
First Published November 30th, 1860


In what has become a landmark of American history and literature, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl recounts the incredible but true story of Harriet Jacobs, born a slave in North Carolina in 1813. Her tale gains its importance from her descriptions, in great and painful detail, of the sexual exploitation that daily haunted her life—and the life of every other black female slave.

As a child, Harriet Jacobs remained blissfully unaware that she was a slave until the deaths of both her mother and a benevolent mistress exposed her to a sexually predatory master, Dr. Flint. Determined to escape, she spends seven years hidden away in a garret in her grandmother’s house, three feet high at its tallest point, with almost no air or light, and with only glimpses of her children to sustain her courage. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, she finally wins her battle for freedom by escaping to the North in 1842.

A powerful, unflinching portrayal of the brutality of slave life, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl stands alongside Frederick Douglass’s classic autobiographies as one of the most significant slave narratives ever written.




My fiance’ recommended this book and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to me a few years back and I just now got the chance to read them. While I enjoyed the one by Douglass, I liked this one even better because the writing was less dry and held my interest better.

I liked this edition because of all the notes and back history that came with it. It was fascinating and a bit shocking that many seemed to think this narrative was fiction and that Harriet Jacobs didn’t exist.

A clear look into what life was like for Harriet Jacobs as a female slave and her journey toward freedom. I am still astounded by all the things she went for and did not only for her own freedom, but for her children.

Definitely a recommended slave narrative.







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