April 13, 2018

Looking Back - A Lesson Before Dying

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
1993 Vintage
Finished in September 1997
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A Lesson Before Dying is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s. Jefferson, a young black man, is an unwitting party to a liquor store shoot out in which three men are killed; the only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Grant Wiggins, who left his hometown for the university, has returned to the plantation school to teach. As he struggles with his decision whether to stay or escape to another state, his aunt and Jefferson's godmother persuade him to visit Jefferson in his cell and impart his learning and his pride to Jefferson before his death. In the end, the two men forge a bond as they both come to understand the simple heroism of resisting and defying the expected. Ernest J. Gaines brings to this novel the same rich sense of place, the same deep understanding of the human psyche, and the same compassion for a people and their struggle that have informed his previous, highly praised works of fiction.

My Original Notes (1997):

A well-written novel about racism and injustice in the 1940s. Lots of imagery. This is the type of book to be taught in high school. Very moving. Stays with you long after you finish reading it.

My Current Thoughts:

This would be a good book to read and discuss in conjunction with Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.


  1. That's a good idea to read and discuss with Just Mercy. I remember thinking this was a powerful book.

    1. Kay, it was a powerful book, wasn't it? I didn't hang on to it, though, so I doubt I'll read it again.

  2. Wiley Cash talks about this book and this author a lot so I need to give it a try. Just Mercy moved me so much.

    1. Kathy, if Wiley Cash recommends this book, you know it must be a winner, right?


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