As the story begins, Moinette is a 14-year-old slave on a Louisiana plantation. She is "yellow" (i.e., of mixed race), and has always lived with only her mother in le quartier (slave quarters), but is one day moved into the main house to be the personal handmaiden and hairdresser to the owner's teenage daughter, Céphaline. When Céphaline succumbs to disease, Moinette is only a reminder to her parents of their loss, and without warning Moinette is uprooted from the only life she has known.
Many nights I did not get enough sleep because, while reading in bed, I simply could not stop reading. There are many, many bite-sized sections within each chapter, each tantalizingly entreating, Oh, you know you have time to read just one more tiny, tiny piece! Look how small the next passage is! (repeat 53x) I appreciated the author's skill at storytelling in such a way that I was unable to guess what was going to happen next -- that I was even conscious of this made me aware of how even original plots are often somewhat transparent. A Million Nightingales is heartbreaking, but Moinette also has her triumphs, small and large.
It was a little hard going at first because the writing is very stream of consciousness and disjointed, but after a chapter or two I had the rhythm of it. Moinette is a high colour (half white, half black) slave in Louisiana before the Americans buy the area from France. She is sold when she is fourteen, and constantly yearns to be reunited with her mother. Moinette has an inquiring mind and is forever trying to make sense of things. How can she be an animal and her owners animals, and still not be equal? How are they different? Why are they different? The story contained a lot of detail about the times and kept me interested to the end.
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