Title: A Lesson Before Dying
Author: Ernest J Gaines
Genre: Historical fiction / classics
Rating: 4 / 5
Through the eyes of a dissatisfied teacher begrudgingly enlisted to cultivate pride in a youth sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit, Ernest Gaines tells a powerful story of black masculinity in the 1940s South. Although this book is only about twenty years old, it has already earned the distinction of being a “classic” and it’s easy to see why.
This is a hard book for me to review. In a way I think this reflects well on the book: it speaks for itself. I took the writing style immediately; I found it very readable and engaging. The plot is very simple as well. Instead of flowery language or complexity of storyline, Gaines makes his stand in masterful evocation of setting and the depth of his themes. The book is hopeful yet realistic; the development and progress of the main characters is well done and seems very lifelike. There is a lot here for such a short book and I would probably benefit from a reread.