Elizabeth's Reviews > A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
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Feb 11, 09

bookshelves: 2009, fiction
Read in February, 2009

I did not like this book. I gave it 2 stars because I do feel like I learned more about black history. The book seemed designed to agitate the reader and I am no exception. I realized I was starting to snap at people around me and be generally cranky about half way through this book. I think this is also the reason the book was picked to be the selection for The Big Read and the One Book One Community program, to get people riled up and inform them of some of the history American experience. Since I live in Baton Rouge and this book takes place in Louisiana, it has that going for it as well.

Unfortunately none of the characters were sympathetic for me. I guess Jefferson was ok, but he is barely in the book. I am ambivalent about Paul and Vivian as well. But the rest of the supporting characters: black, white and anything in between, aggravated me in different ways and at different levels.

The main character, Grant, was particularly a problem. I talked to a friend who had seen the play and said it was very moving. I suspect that if I hadn't had to deal with Grants internal chatter I would have liked it better. I felt like this would have been better presented as a series of vignettes. There were several parts that were very enlightening but they were held together by details of Grant's life that were boring and uninteresting. I nearly didn't finish the book, but it got more bearable after the Christmas scenes.

I was particularly agitated by Grant's treatment of the students. I had to repeatedly tell myself that this was common practice for the time period but that doesn't mean I have to condone it.
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Reading Progress

02/03/2009 page 24
9.38% "I just started and I am already wondering if I should have read something lighter first since i just read THE BOOK THIEF."
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