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Throwback Thursday: A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest Gaines

12 Jul

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books! It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. Through Throwback Thursdays THCW and NTFB hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

A Lesson Before DyingThis week’s Throwback Thursday book is A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.

Summary from Amazon:  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.

Why You Should Read This Book:  This book is certainly not my usual pick for a Throwback Thursday, but it’s one I was discussing with a friend recently and just wanted to share it with as many people as possible.

This was on the syllabus in my sophomore English class and it is one of the only assigned books that I now list among my favorites. This book is not an easy or light-hearted read; It’s dark, difficult, gritty and deeply sad. It contains a powerful and engaging lesson through a very vivid portrayal of 1940’s Southern racial injustice in a small Louisiana town.

The story is so incredibly moving that it keeps you turning pages long after you should have gone to sleep. It allows you to connect with Grant and Jefferson in a way that you probably didn’t think was possible when you first cracked open it’s spine. A Lesson Before Dying is, in my opinion, Ernest Gaines’ best work and one that you would be doing yourself a disservice if you never read.

Just, maybe make sure you have some tissues and chocolate handy.

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5 responses to “Throwback Thursday: A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest Gaines

  1. Lauren@The Housework Can Wait

    16 July, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I hadn’t heard of this one, and I agree, this isn’t my usual fare but sounds like a great book. I’ll need to go check this one out of the library!

    I know I’m super-late this week, but thanks for participating in Throwback Thursday!

     
  2. Kendal

    12 July, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Wow! That looks really good. Thanks for stopping by!

    Kendal

     
  3. Gabby @ What's Beyond Forks?

    12 July, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Even if you didn’t say to have tissues handy, the title alone tells me to buy some tissues in bulk when I read this one. Thank you for sharing!
    My Throwback Thursday

     
    • akamaireader

      12 July, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      It sounds really ponderous and heavy. I’ve never read any Ernest Gaines. This looks like a good place to start!

       
      • Sarah @ Breaking the Binding

        13 July, 2012 at 8:27 am

        It’s a fantastically well-written story, and if you haven’t read any Ernest Gaines I strongly suggest doing so!

         

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