February 22, 2012

Amazing grace

Out of Slavery: The Journey to Amazing Grace
by Linda Granfield
illustrated by Janet Wilson

The story of John Newton, a trader and ship captain responsible for transporting slaves from Africa to the Caribbean. Astoundingly, Newton himself was once enslaved and was therefore well aware of its hardships, yet he didn't appear to have had any qualms about his sordid profession. It was only after a near shipwreck that he found God and renounced his former life. Newton was ordained in England and went on to write the hymn Amazing Grace.

The book's title led me to believe that Newton was a man who helped free slaves and wrote the hymn to give them hope. So it was startling to learn the very different sides to his character. Although Newton did present evidence against the slave trade, it is not mentioned whether he ever tried to make amends. But it is clear that the hymn was meant for himself and others who have experienced suffering and despair.

Granfield manages to write a serious story without resorting to overly graphic detail. A very good book.

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