by Ernest J. Gaines
"And that's all we are, Jefferson, all of us on this earth, a piece of drifting wood, until we -- each one of us, individually -- decide to become something else." Grant Wiggins in A Lesson Before Dying (p. 193)
In a small Louisiana town in the late 1940's, Grant Wiggins, the town's teacher for one of the African American schools, is begged by the godmother of Jefferson, an ill-educated, falsely accused, young black man sentenced to die in the electric chair, to help Jefferson face his death as a man and not the "hog" he was called during his trial.
I am speechless. There is not a solitary word I can utter that would properly convey the majesty I felt in this book. I will be reading another novel by this author soon, and perhaps an opportunity to compare the two will provide a cure for my momentary disability. With time and distance I will be better able to analyze my reaction to A Lesson Before Dying, but until then it has earned a place of honor on my personal list of treasured reads.
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!