Written By Isabel Wilkerson
Published October 4th 2011 by Vintage
Read the synopsis at goodreads
I read this in eBook format and, about 15% into it I realized I wasn’t going to be able to give a real review of this book. Not in the way that I have for other book. This book hit me in a way no other book ever has. It made me feel uncomfortable, angry, and so unbearably sad that I would have to put the book down for days.I am going to attempt to tell you why I am having such a hard time reviewing it but, I apologize in advance if it comes out poorly. Everything I know about my father’s side of the family my mother told me. My paternal grandfather was born in Louisiana and moved to Littlefield Texas where he married my grandmother. Both of his parents died when he was very young and he wouldn’t make it past 6th grade. My grandmother would have to drop out before she reached high school and, would give birth to her first child at age 14. They would both work as sharecroppers picking cotton while they raised their 17 children. She would be pregnant for the greater part of 2 decades. My father was number 14 and she would be back in the field picking cotton just 2 days after he was born. Eventually they headed west and in the late 60’s they ended up in New Mexico. I never realized that they were in fact part of the great migration. They may not have gone as far west as California or as far north as New York, or Detroit but they still got the heck out of dodge so to speak. The really sad thing is until last year I had a walking talking piece of history in my grandmother and I never bothered to ask her anything about her life . My grandfather died before I was born and I honestly know next to nothing about him. Up until now I was content with the few stories my mom would tell me. Now that my grandmother is dead I realize what I have lost. I feel like I know what racism is, I sure don’t need a lesson on it. I have experienced racism first hand and, I have watched it happen to my father and friends but, I also know that what black people my grandmothers age faced doesn’t touch what I have seen. I’m not entirely sure I would have been able to handle what she may have told me but, I should have asked. I think that is the key reason why this book was so emotional for me. Nothing in this book was new to me but the way Wilkerson presented it made me feel it in a different way.
I agree with some of the other people who have said it was a bit long-winded but, it didn’t bother me and, I didn’t feel talked down to. There was a ton of information in this book and it was at times overwhelming but, I found that putting the book down for a day or so helped with that feeling. I think people tend to forget that it wasn’t that long ago that it was perfectly ok to keep a black person from buying or renting a home, from entering a restaurant or getting a decent education, not to mention kill them. The correlations Wilkerson draws between treatment of blacks then and what’s going on today are so well done. In some ways we have come so far and in others we are as we ever were. Overall even though it was a difficult read it was well worth it and, I will likely read it again not soon but sometime in the future.
Until Next Time