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Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,059 ratings  ·  213 reviews
From the acclaimed cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing comes this powerful story of her journey to understand her northern and southern roots, the Great Migration, and the displacement of black people across America.

Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the N
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by Harper
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“Reconsideration is what history is all about; history doesn’t care what you feel. I had to be OK with being uncomfortable with whatever I would find out about my family.”

Wandering in Strange Lands is a memoir mixed with cultural history and social commentary. Morgan Jerkins investigates the Great Migration while tracing back her family history. This book provided many interesting and thought provoking facts that aren’t necessarily taught at schools. However it suffered from its lack of emotiona
Morgan Jerkins had heard her family’s many stories and histories throughout her life but over time she began to wonder how those tales, folk sayings, etc might relate to the reality of her background. Just who were her “people?” By tracing the Great Migration in reverse and tracking specific parts of both paternal and maternal forebears, she creates a portrait of black life in America post slavery that is likely relevant for many Black people in this country.

The author physically travels to are
Never Without a Book
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a solid well researched book. I learned a ton. More thoughts to come.
I was seven years old when I learned that I wasn't my father's only daughter This is the line that opens Morgan Jerkins sophomore novel and sets us up for a historical look into her family tree. Morgan sets out to understand more about her family's history, where they came from, why they left and why they settle where they did. Jerkins holds nothing back, she is unafraid of learning more about her history and this was a genuine look.

I really enjoyed reading this, I feel like I can relate to J
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020

Not to be this person, but I'm truly processing everything this book brought me...

Review to come.
Zachary F.
As the subtitle suggests, Wandering in Strange Lands sees author Morgan Jerkins merging a personal exploration of her family history with a broader look at Black American experiences before, during, and after the Great Migration. It's a great idea for a book, and Jerkins' main points of emphasis—the Gullah people of the South Carolina Lowcountry, the Creole communities of Louisiana, and the Black Freedmen of the Cherokee and Seminole nations—are as fascinating as they are underrepresented in oth ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Why hasn't this gotten more attention? It's fantastic. ...more
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-authors
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Thanks to Libro.FM for providing me with the audiobook for this one! It's read by the author and fantastic.

Wandering in Strange Lands is part memoir/family history, part ethnography as the author traces the Great Migration back to specific Black communities in the United States. It is a fascinating, thoughtful and nuanced exploration of Blackness in America and the complexities of racism, colorism, gentrification, and labeling of groups. We travel from the Gullah Geechee
Traci at The Stacks
This book is well researched and offers lots of information that was new to me. I loved learning more about The Great Migration. The writing/craft of the book was lacking and felt very simplistic. The content was very interesting and some parts were really new to me.
Abbie | ab_reads
Sep 11, 2020 added it
Shelves: audio
Thanks to @librofm and @harperaudio for providing a free ALC of Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins! I learned so much from this book, it completely enraptured me and I listened to all of it in three days. In this book, Jerkins delves into the history of the Great Migration and her own personal family history in an attempt to rediscover and understand her own lineage, and the effects of the Great Migration on Black people's roots, heritage and sense of identity.
Split up into sections,
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Reconsideration is what history is all about; history doesn’t care what you feel. I had to be OK with being uncomfortable with whatever I would find out about my family.”
If you read and loved THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS by Isabel Wilkerson, or THE COOKING GENE by Michael W. Twitty, you’ll want to check this one out too. The social history-meets-memoir narrative style makes for incredibly compelling reading, and listening to the audiobook (which Jerkins narrates) was next level! I loved how much r
This book is an entirely different animal from Jerkins's first book, THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING. Coming into it expecting the same kind of writing might be disappointing to readers; I wish I hadn't had the ghost of that book hanging over me as I read this one. In THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING, Jerkins made herself vulnerable and laid herself open; it's a deeply insightful and moving series of personal refections on her experiences as a young black woman in America. This book is not nearly so focused on t ...more
Paris (parisperusing)
“The land is everything, and without it, our culture is in peril. We once worked the land, we bought that land, and we prospered on that land. Although I feel quite unmoored that I have no ancestral home in the South, at least the name Americus can rest on my tongue, letting me know that New Jersey is neither the beginning nor necessarily the end of my family’s story. I learned that there is always a deeper story. No matter how many times one moves away from one’s original place, somehow one wil ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I enjoyed this book more than Jerkins first one. She journeys from her New Jersey home state to the Deep South and Western areas in search of family roots. I was saddened, but not surprised to hear examples like McIntosh, Georgia where tax hikes on Gulla people in an effort to take land from African descendants and pass it to colonizers or corporations (e.g. Marriott).

14 million acres were lost in Beaufort, South Carolina by Gullah families. Hilton Head Island Gullah families lost heir property
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, netgalley
(Note:I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)

Morgan Jerkins’ investigation of her ancestors ended up becoming almost as much an avalanche of revelations to me as it was for her. With every branch of the family that she thoroughly explored through visits, research, and interviews, she ended up revealing a flood of information about some facet of the black experience in America that was either little-known to this reader, such as the Creoles of the Gulf or black Ind
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A memoir & cultural history combined. Jerkins explores the Great Migration of Black folks from the south to the north through her own family’s lineage. From the south lands of South Carolina & Georgia, to Louisiana and Oklahoma. I listened to an ALC of this book courtesy of, and tbh, I think this has made its way into one of my fave reads of the year! I loved it so much that I fully intend to buy a physical copy for my bookshelf! In the audiobook, Jerkins narrates her own book, and as u ...more
Karen Ashmore
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Morgan Jerkins was born and raised in South Jersey but wanted to explore her roots. She visits with Geechee in Georgia, Gullah in SC, Creoles in Louisiana, and Cherokee and Choctaw in OK. She concludes by exploring LA, where she herself had lived. I found this interesting - having grown up in SC, I am very familiar with the Gullah culture. I know a number of Creole people and was fascinated by those chapters. I know several Native Americans from OK so was interesting in comparing and contrasting ...more
molly samuel
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Wandering in Strange Lands is a book I highly recommend, Morgan Jerkins is a talented writer who is able to bring stories and the past to life in a way that is both touching and informative.
Jerkins takes the reader on a journey to investigate her family's history through a travel log like style, as she journeys through America in an attempt to find her ancestors and story. Jerkins specifically focuses on the Great Migration and how that affected the experiences of Black Americans.
This book is e
I received an ALC from Libro.FM in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Okay I need more stories like this! This is such a fascinating memoir. Morgan Jerkins traces her familial roots back 300 years and follows the path they made during the Great Migration. Her story telling was so well done. She effortlessly included factual documents, interviews with the narrative portion of her story. I learned a lot about what being Creole, Seminole, and Cherokee means and the different pre
Sachi Argabright
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
WANDERING IN STRANGE LANDS by Morgan Jerkins is an exploration of the Great Migration and Jerkins’s own personal narrative. After millions of Black individuals left the South to escape Jim Crow laws and discrimination, many became disconnected from their roots and heritage. In this book Jerkins retraces her family lineage, and learns the shared history of Black migrants across the country.

I absolutely loved this sophomore book from Morgan Jerkins! I really enjoyed learning alongside her, and hea
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“With this book, I hope to help Black people to regain their narratives and recontextualize the shame that has been pressed upon our hearts from time immemorial. We are here because we are in perpetual motion, our migratory patterns rivaling those of birds. I do not believe that there is a promised land for us in America, I am disappointed that I could not find a happier end for these pages, but you and I know that the promised land does not exist. Racism abides in all zip codes on every migrato ...more
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written nonfiction book. I learned so much after reading this novel about the vast differences in African American roots and culture all over the United States. I really appreciate the author allowing us to permeate the walls of her family history, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This really was a journey that everyone should read to get more of an understanding of the importance of culture, especially in the African American community, and how current ideals and practices often p ...more
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Great Migration led to Jerkins growing up in New Jersey. Here, she explores her roots, serving as our guide as she visits and meets with Gullah-Geechee, Creole, Natives and Angelenos.
Morgan takes readers on a personal and fascinating journey to uncover her roots and find her identity. Like many Black Americans who are descendants of enslaved Africans, Morgan's parents couldn't tell her about her anything ancestors - where they came from, how they lived. She took a trip down south and out west to seek answers. She travels to Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California. She explores Black folks connection to food, spiritual practices, water, land, culture, as ...more
Ashley Certo
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly well done 👍🏻
Leslie Zemeckis
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful book about a woman searching for her roots - and her journey - what family is and race and who we are
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found the premise of this book hard to grasp for a few reasons. However, I appreciate the qualitative approach and the much needed criticism of dna tests in relation to race/genetics. Race isn’t genetic! It’s arbitrary, subjective, fluid and socially constructed. The police don’t ask people for their family trees or dna test results before shooting them multiple times. Those murders are about race and systems of oppression, not genes. Genes and ancestry do not determine our lived experiences o ...more
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Those that have done some kind of DNA search or have letters and documents about your ancestors and have figured out where you came from and what you are then you probably are white and NOT black. That's why Morgan Jerkins researched her roots. She wanted to know much more about her family and ancestors and not just tidbits from family members that revealed some mysterious information that was incomplete because it was HUSH-HUSH.
Morgan found much more about BLACK HISTORY than she thought possibl
Carly Thompson
This wasn't the book for me. Exploring her genealogy of which she knows little about, Jerkins travels to the south to explore different African American communities and their ways of life. I read about half the book before abandoning it. I liked reading about the different communities - Gullah Geechee off the coast of South Carolina, Creoles in Louisiana but was less interested in the author's own family tree and how she personally felt about her ancestors. Readers more interested in genealogy a ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not a detailed review since I found it quite hard to do so with nonfiction, but this book illuminates for me that I still didn’t know when it comes to how deep and far the shadow of American racism and antiblackness goes, despite having subscribed to anti-racist work and activism — and despite actively working to unlearn racist propaganda that has been taught to me as a new immigrant to this country by the American school system. It makes me realize that there is still so much I don’t know, not ...more
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The Blender Book ...: February 2021 - Wandering in Strange Lands 11 14 Feb 19, 2021 03:28PM  

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Morgan Jerkins is the author of the New York Times bestseller, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America and the forthcoming Wandering In Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots.

A graduate of Princeton University and the Bennington Writing Seminars, Jerkins is the current Senior Editor at ZORA of Medium and for

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