#Review #5stars The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson

MY REVIEW 5 stars:

Wow… just wow. I don’t even know where to start on this review, because wow! This isn’t a book that you can read in one sitting, or even two or three, at least not for me anyway. It’s taken me well over a month to read it. Not only because it’s obviously so long, but because so much of it is completely heart wrenching – you just have to step away and regroup. I cried more throughout this book then I have any other that I can recall. Most ugly cry books are like a giant buildup to the big punch in your guts at the ending, a big fat tear jerking twist that leaves you in shambles.
Not this novel. Not at all.
The Warmth of Other Suns is the kind of tearful book that has soooooooo many stories within the big ones that seriously just knock the wind out of you. From cover to cover I bawled my eyes out. Not even from the three main stories within, but from all the mentions, facts and side stories along the way. The wrongful murders, torturous beatings, public humiliations and overall mistreatment of the people that actually took place is a sickening reminder of the nasty side of human kind. There is also a lot of hope, changes and strength.
Kudos to the author for all the years of research, interviewing and fact collecting that went into the making of this historically factual novel. It’s truly no wonder that it’s been a bestselling, award winning book for as long as it has. The praise and recognition is very well deserved. The Great Migration is a hard topic to write, as the people stayed in the same country. Yet, from 1915 to 1970, almost six million people moved from the south to the escape their mistreatment and try to build a new life for themselves. It covers Jim Crow, and tells the truths of life for African Americans during this era.
There are three main characters: Ida Mae Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Pershing Foster who left the South during three different decades. The author gives a personal account of each of their stories. My favorite is possibly George. Not because his life was any easier or harder than the others – really they all went through so much, and in different ways – but because he was able to accomplish so much along the way. He has a sort of drive and dedication to him. He was goal driven and I really loved that!
The story bounces a lot, from character to character, picking up where it left of on each bounce… yet its done in a seamless way. It’s very well written and very easy to follow. As I mentioned, I put the book down a lot, yet I didn’t feel like I was lost when I picked it back up. The author also plugs in a TON of facts for practically every location and timeframe that she writes about. Every time a character is in a certain place – both geographically and timeline wise – she’s able to tie-in historical events, statistics, and news that really just cements the realities that were.
I seriously can’t recommend this eye-opening, and every humbling book enough! Hands down 5 stars.


NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this beautifully written masterwork, the Pulitzer Prize–winnner and bestselling author of Caste chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.

Wilkerson brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an “unrecognized immigration” within our own land. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Martie says:

    Loved this review. It makes me want to read the book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Martie!! I can’t recommend this book enough!!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. janetsm says:

    I enjoyed reading your review. I read this book last year and was blown away by it and all the research the author did. It’s the kind of book that you’ll always remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It most certainly is! Thank you for stopping in to read my review 🙂


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