Moses Kilolo's Reviews > A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was amazing

Someday I will die. That I am sure of. But I do not think about it, at least, not consciously. I wouldn't want to think that a time will come when light, breath, and little breezes are things I will not experience. And never again see that little, oh, so beautiful smile in her eyes. But it will come, all the same. When? Tomorrow? Next year? Fifty, a hundred... well maybe say seventy years at the most.

That was a passing thought. Sad it was caught on record.

Well, think of a man who knows that he shall soon die. And the date is set. He counts the days, and in his solitary confinement has to deal with the ever present fact that the clock is still ticking, closer to the appointed day. The day he will meet his death, in an electric chair. This knowledge, the thoughts it inspires, is more torture than anything I can imagine.

Take this man. Be him for a second. And remember that you are innocent of the charge against you. And helpless. Utterly helpless. (sob, sob.)

His name, your adopted name for the second, is Jefferson.

He is at the wrong place when a crime happens, and being the sole survivor of a liquor store robbery he is arrested and convicted of murder. Bring in Mr. Wiggins, a teacher whom the community expects so much from, and ask him to teach this man a lesson before, well....

His narrative voice, sad but deepened by wisdom as it is sharpened by doubt and pain, is like seating by a fire and listening to an old man whose tranquility exudes and soothes.


I want to listen to a sad song:

Totally unrelated, by the way. Just sad.

Why is it that I had not heard of Ernest J. Gaines before reading this book? I have such an affinity for African-American fiction, some books of which, like Beloved, are a treasure. This author clearly meant business here. And this book is worth every minutes you spend with it.
11 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Lesson Before Dying.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

February 19, 2013 – Started Reading
February 19, 2013 – Shelved
February 27, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Crystal Was certainly worth every minute I spent with it.

Moses Kilolo Crystal wrote: "Was certainly worth every minute I spent with it."

It is a beautiful book; no doubt but sorta heartbreaking.. Must reread sometime :)

back to top