On the Southern Literary Trail discussion

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Group Reads: Moderator's Choice > Moderator's Choice - August, 2016 - A Lesson Before Dying

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message 1: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
This has been nominated and come very close winning our polls a couple of times. I love Ernest J. Gaines and have wanted to read this for some time. Here's my chance, and yours too.


message 2: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 2218 comments Mod
I'm in Diane. I think I've voted for it each time. Thank you for this choice.


message 3: by Diane S ☔ (new)

Diane S ☔ I have started it, first three chapters. Very powerful book and I am sure it is going to break my heart.


message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I'm about 100 pages in and enjoying it so far.


message 5: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
I"M at about the same place Diane. And I have the same feeling.


message 6: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 2218 comments Mod
I'll be late to the party. School starts for kiddo next week so I'll be in limbo but definitely have it "on deck" to read.


message 7: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
Boy, that's an early start. Is she in year round?


message 8: by Brina (new)

Brina I was going to say same thing. Mine don't go back for another 5 weeks.


message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) Mine starts back August 10th. *sigh*

In our case, the early start is driven by the goal of always ending immediately before Memorial Day.


message 10: by Brina (new)

Brina I read this I think in high school so it's been awhile but I'm too committed now to join this time but I'll be following along.


message 11: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 2218 comments Mod
August 5, and they say it's because we get a fall break. But she's not in year round. This has been the fastest summer. There are times I want to home school her so I can set schedule, not bc of our school system. Then I slap myself and come back to reality. She would have me tied up before the first week was over. I'm a little bit of a drill Sargent. We all need public education in our house. She's a competitor and I don't want to be the one she would be competing against. Josh sure doesn't want to be the referee!


message 12: by Brina (new)

Brina Laura I home schooled for 1 year and it was a long year because I also a drill sargeant and because I had 4 kids at different levels. I was going cuckoo. When it came time to register them for the next school year, I was first to sign up. Still August 5 seems early. Do you get out in mid May because don't get out til mid June.


message 13: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 2218 comments Mod
We didn't get out until Thursday before Memorial Day.


message 14: by Jane (new)

Jane | 753 comments What do you think of the school superintendant in the book?


message 15: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
He was only visiting the school because it was required of him. He didn't want to be there at all, he felt it was a waste of his time. I think it was Gaines way of showing how marginalized and forgotten the rural black children were.


message 16: by Jane (new)

Jane | 753 comments True, his visit didnt seem to have a lot to do with education

There are a lot of references to food too :)


message 17: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
Ohhhh, the food! I wanted to be in that jail just to eat Miss Ella ' s food.


message 18: by Jane (new)

Jane | 753 comments Yes, me too ! Seems to add to the nuturing aspect


message 19: by Jane (new)

Jane | 753 comments The passages about Joe Lewis and Jackie Robinson were among the most touching ,that search and longing for a hero


message 20: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
That impressed me too. It's one of the things that brought home to me how insensitive whites can be, assuming their white heroes are everyone else's too. They all needed black men to succeed so they could feel like men, not hogs. It wasn't just Jefferson who needed pride.


message 21: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 2218 comments Mod
Oh no, I'm 16 pages in and realize this one may be hard on the heart. I guess the title should have been a red flag.


message 22: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
Yes Laura, it is hard on the heart. But worth every tear.


message 23: by Sue (new)

Sue | 667 comments I'm about 30+ pages in and have found myself becoming upset and indignant already. I have a feeling there will be a lot of emotion before this is over. I don't know why I put this off for so long. I believe I misunderstood what this book is. I'm so glad to be reading it now.


message 24: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
Sue, I don't know if you've read anything else by Gaines, but he takes you in directions you are unaware of. I got more understanding from reading this than I did from a couple of non -fiction books I read about race relations because I could feel it. Never let it be said that fiction can't be powerful.


message 25: by Sue (new)

Sue | 667 comments Diane wrote: "Sue, I don't know if you've read anything else by Gaines, but he takes you in directions you are unaware of. I got more understanding from reading this than I did from a couple of non -fiction book..."

Yes, I can definitely "feel it", as you say. This is my first book by Gaines.


message 26: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 2218 comments Mod
I have 15 minutes before kiddo gets in car. I feel my throat constricting and tightness in chest. Can't finish the diary excerpt right now, turning on some Avett Brothers to cheer me up. Heavy, friends, heavy.


message 27: by Sue (new)

Sue | 667 comments The intensity continues with virtually every page I read. And the definition of a way of life I will never be able to understand since I am not black.


message 28: by Jane (new)

Jane | 753 comments The ending is one of the most heart breaking yet beautiful in literature and I will never forget the tears and silence of my students when we finished reading it every year a different class but the same reaction (French students for finals)


message 29: by Sue (new)

Sue | 667 comments Jane wrote: "The ending is one of the most heart breaking yet beautiful in literature and I will never forget the tears and silence of my students when we finished reading it every year a different class but th..."

I can only imagine as I get closer to that point!


message 30: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
This is assigned school reading in my area. I just hope the kids eyes are opened just a bit to feel some empathy.


message 31: by Sue (new)

Sue | 667 comments I finished this afternoon. So, so powerful. One of the best uses of diary I've encountered. And the very end...excellent. Nothing easy in this story; all is well earned.


message 32: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
I'm glad you valued it Sue. Not an easy read to be sure, but an important one. It should be read by everyone, but so many of the people who could benefit by this book's message will never read or appreciate it.


message 33: by Sue (new)

Sue | 667 comments So true, Diane, sadly.


message 34: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Wheelehan (cynthiawh) Could not put this down...one of the few books I could visualize, hear, feel, taste (the fried chicken) and even smell (again - the chicken, the old jail).....


message 35: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4334 comments Mod
Oh, the food! I almost wished I could be in that jail just to eat the food Jefferson turned down.


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