Customer Reviews for

A Lesson before Dying

Average Rating 4
( 283 )
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(114)

4 Star

(108)

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(35)

2 Star

(15)

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(11)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

A SURPRISINGLY GOOD BOOK.

A Lesson Before Dying is a book about a mentally retarded man, Jefferson. Jefferson is wrongly convicted of a murder. He is called a 'hog' during his trail. His aunt, Miss Emma, wants him to become a man before he dies. Miss Emma asked the community's teacher, Grant, to...
A Lesson Before Dying is a book about a mentally retarded man, Jefferson. Jefferson is wrongly convicted of a murder. He is called a 'hog' during his trail. His aunt, Miss Emma, wants him to become a man before he dies. Miss Emma asked the community's teacher, Grant, to make her son a man before his execution.
Grant is left with an enormous task when he reluctantly agreed. Grant has to break down the barriers surrounding Jefferson, who refuses to eat and talk to his visitors, but in the end, two complete opposite people become the best of friends.
I really enjoyed this book. It has a moving plot that makes you think about the life you are living. At times in the middle of the book it got a little tedious waiting for the end, but it picked up speed again toward the end of the story.
This book is a historical fiction book set in the 1940's while whites still had the upper hand. This book is for advanced young adults readers and older.

posted by BANCHEE_READS on October 29, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Really a terrible book

I am honestly so surprised to see that so many people rated this book as high as they did. After seeing what this book was about I really was excited to read it. I thought that there would be a lot of dialouge about life within the man's cell and that it would b...
I am honestly so surprised to see that so many people rated this book as high as they did. After seeing what this book was about I really was excited to read it. I thought that there would be a lot of dialouge about life within the man's cell and that it would be something I could apply to and that would encourage some thought. Bottom line: absolutely nothing happens. The convicted man changes overnight, with no description whatsoever at what truly changed him. One minute he's a hog and then the next he's listening to this teacher guy which, personally, I really didn't care for as a character. I have to admit I'm a harsh critic, I rarely read books I'm truly moved by. This one didn't even come close though. Terrible book.

posted by Anonymous on June 30, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A SURPRISINGLY GOOD BOOK.

    A Lesson Before Dying is a book about a mentally retarded man, Jefferson. Jefferson is wrongly convicted of a murder. He is called a 'hog' during his trail. His aunt, Miss Emma, wants him to become a man before he dies. Miss Emma asked the community's teacher, Grant, to make her son a man before his execution.<BR/>Grant is left with an enormous task when he reluctantly agreed. Grant has to break down the barriers surrounding Jefferson, who refuses to eat and talk to his visitors, but in the end, two complete opposite people become the best of friends.<BR/>I really enjoyed this book. It has a moving plot that makes you think about the life you are living. At times in the middle of the book it got a little tedious waiting for the end, but it picked up speed again toward the end of the story.<BR/>This book is a historical fiction book set in the 1940's while whites still had the upper hand. This book is for advanced young adults readers and older.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 17, 2011

    I've read this book over a sixty times

    This is a modern day classic. I've read and taught this book since 1998. I never get tired of the story and I constantly find new facets of the book that I am just now seeing. From the Christ figure of Jefferson to Grant's ambiguous atheism, Gaines takes an interesting look at the problems of faith for black men in the 1940's Deep South. Also, Grant's journey to manhood parallels Jefferson's. Could either of them have done it without the other? Their are other themes present as well: Human dignity, Community Responsibility, Running away from one's problems,and Universality are some of them. I've found that I learn something from this book every single time I read it with my classes. The humanity of Jefferson's diary always moves my students. Even though Jefferson isn't an educated, or even a smart man, he is still a man deserving of dignity and decency and justice. While seeming to be a rather dark subject, A Lesson Before Dying is an uplifting story of hope and redemption. I can't imagine not having this book in my classroom.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Brilliant! Worth reading a second time!

    This was a great book I really enjoyed this book it was an easy read and I could not put it down once I started! I originally picked this book up because I read the first chapter on an online review page and on this website you are limited to one chapter so after I had read the first chapter I was hooked on the book I tried to get the book as soon as possible so I could read it. I loved this book so much that I would be willing to read this book a second time and I have never considered reading a book twice that is how much I loved this book. Throughout the book Jefferson displays the theme of redemption in death. At the end of the novel Jefferson redeems himself in front of his community because he defies his society that tells him that he is a hog but instead of acting like the hog that everyone says he is he makes his community proud by standing strong at the execution being the "strongest man in the room." This novel is a heart wrenching book that made me feel for Grant Wiggins, Jefferson and Jefferson's friends and family and at points made me wanted to cry. The only thing I did not like about this book was that it went into extreme detail for instance the author would explain what the characters were eating and it said things that were not important sometimes, but other than that Ernest J. Gaines is a brilliant author. This book should be considered a classic literature but I do not think that it should be taught in high schools just because it had some bad parts and some not so good language it is definitely considered a young adult book it has some mature themes in it. One of the many things that I liked about this book is how much smarter Jefferson is than everyone gives him credit for. One thing that I like about the main character Grant Wiggins is that he never calls himself a teacher but in the end he teaches a "hog" to be a man and is a very smart man. One thing that I would change about this book is just not putting in every detail about Grant Wiggins and Vivian's relationship because I did not see how it tied into the story. This book reminds me of the movie The Green Mile. The Green Mile is about a guard who works in the jail for the people that are going to be executed. Tom Hanks plays a character that feels bad for a jailer that is to be soon executed. This movie reminds me of this book because there is a guard in there named Paul and he is emotionally compensated about the execution of Jefferson. This book has been a truly inspiring book it has taught me many life lessons for instance choose wisely on the people you hang out with it might cost your life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    Really a terrible book

    I am honestly so surprised to see that so many people rated this book as high as they did. After seeing what this book was about I really was excited to read it. I thought that there would be a lot of dialouge about life within the man's cell and that it would be something I could apply to and that would encourage some thought. Bottom line: absolutely nothing happens. The convicted man changes overnight, with no description whatsoever at what truly changed him. One minute he's a hog and then the next he's listening to this teacher guy which, personally, I really didn't care for as a character. I have to admit I'm a harsh critic, I rarely read books I'm truly moved by. This one didn't even come close though. Terrible book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2013

    Amazing and thought provoking

    This book taught me what true shame is about, but it also taught me humility and strength.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    Amazing book. I have read it several times.  The first was when

    Amazing book. I have read it several times.  The first was when I was in high school.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    Gjtkg

    Jjdf

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Powerful, highly recommended.

    This has got to be one of the best works of fiction that I have ever read. Some of the most beautiful and moving passages ever written -- especially the writings by Jefferson. Felt like I was there. Unforgettable!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012

    Good Read!

    I'm reading this in class, and it is really suprising. I love the concept of the story and the plot. The movie is also something to look foward to, but it may look boring but I thought it would be good read because i have black/ french heritage so i could relate ancestors with this novel!

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  • Posted September 30, 2012

    Check this book out! - cant stop reading it.

    This book was great,I recommend this to anyone that can relate to the coming of age. This novel brings you to a small town in the southern states in the 1940's. A uneducated black man named Jefferson is in the middle of a shootout, where Jefferson is the only survivor. Jefferson is put on trial for murder, and as Jefferson and his friends and family are put though life changing events where they learn about each other and their ideals. Jefferson learns about heroism and how some push to be a hero and some fail to try.

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  • Posted August 31, 2012

    Well told.

    Well told.

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  • Posted August 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Page Turner

    This book is very interesting; however, sad at the same time. Unfortunately, this book displays the truth about the horrible events that happened in African American's in the 1940's. There was a total disregard for African American’s, human life in the 40's.

    I questioned, "What were people thinking?" Secondly, there were moments I questioned the behavior of the teacher in regards to the children... It is unfortunate that the structure of teaching was based on fear. This was a great read, I suggest everyone to read this book...There are a lot of life lesson when reading this book for each of us.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    Great Read

    This book was a very god read. I read it in high school and it was interesting and it pulled out all my emotions. Books like this take you on a journey into the life if the characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    good meaning, poorly written

    This novel had good potential, but it was very dry and boring. The middle of the novel is very repetitive; the same thing happens over and over again. It was very difficult to like the characters, Grant is very whiney and Jefferson shows no emotion. Grant shows little compassion toward Jefferson and seems agitated when he is asked to help him by Jefferson's elderly godmother. The beginning and ending of the novel were pretty good, but all the pages in between showed no development or contribution to the plot. The characters remained flat and they were very predictable. Jefferson's Diary at the end was a horrible reading experience. It is understood that he was not educated properly as a child back in the 1940s, and life was VERY hard for him, but not many readers want to sit around and waste their time reading a whole chapter of "...i done eat my rice an beans an i done had my cup of milk an the sun comin in the windo cause i can see it splashin in the flo..." (Gaines 226). Also, the theme of the novel was apparent from the first page, which was racism. This theme dominated the novel to the highest extent, and it made the whole plot very predictable. The only positive point about this novel is its message. It shows the hardships people endured in a racist world and how they dealt with it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    Good

    This book ws very good and i would recommend this to anyone that loves the type of old shool books with colored and white people and i believe that you would really be able to get into this book

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  • Posted March 2, 2012

    For all who haven’t read this book, I would definitely sug

    For all who haven&rsquo;t read this book, I would definitely suggest reading it in the near future. It isn&rsquo;t the most exciting and exhilarating book ever written, but over all there is a good message that comes out of reading it.
    The story is about a black man named Jefferson who is accused of robbing and murdering a white liquor store owner. Hoping for Jefferson&rsquo;s innocence the jury finds Jefferson guilty and puts him in jail until the date is set for his execution. Jefferson takes the snide comment from the defense attorney about him being a &ldquo;dumb hog&rdquo; to heart and no longer thinks of himself as human. After finding out that her godson was sent to jail and sentenced to electrocution, Miss Emma, Jefferson&rsquo;s godmother, is determined to make Jefferson think he is human again and for him to regain his self respect.
    In order to do this she asks a local school teacher, Grant Wiggins, to visit Jefferson in jail until he comes around again. After several visits, Jefferson, as well as Grant who has also been having some struggles in his life, finally begins to regain his self respect and knowledge of the importance of life. Grant realizes that his life might not be as bad off as he thought since he isn&rsquo;t the one stuck in jail about to die. This recollection builds up Grant&rsquo;s hope and faith that he is able to make a difference in Jefferson&rsquo;s life. The big question is whether or not Jefferson realizes the importance of life and if he will walk with his head held high on the day of his execution.
    Overall, the book was very inspirational and made you value the importance of life. Some people in the world have a lot more trials and struggles in their life than others. We need to all realize that even if there is a time when we are struggling, we probably aren&rsquo;t as bad off as a lot of people. The book was very well written and made you reflect on how you are living your life. The only weakness that I saw personally in the book was that it was a little slow. It was easy reading, but many of the same things kept happening over and over. The whole book was based in the same location which made me loose a little interest. These weaknesses however are small and shouldn&rsquo;t stop you from reading this inspirational novel.

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    Great Read!

    I just so happen to be reading this book at the same time as the Casey Anthony trial. And I tell you I found this book compelling. It had me thinking of how many innocent people were put in chairs like that all over this country. But a mother who admitted that she knew her child drowned and didn't report it could just go free angered me.

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    I don't recommend it if you fall asleep easily.

    This book was well written and the charaters are very disteinct and "interesting". But this books is a sob story from beginning to end and it has a very anti-climatic ending I suggest if you are looking for a happy ending you won't find it here.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    YOYOYOYOY CHECK THIS OUT!!!!!!!

    I thought it was a splended book. i would not recomend it for people looking for a thrill. But i would for people who likes a good plot and a story line. Glourious

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    Not Recommended

    A couple positives i see in this book is that it has lots of hooks in the story you wouldnt expect. Another positive would be about the characters in the story are very unique. A couple negatives in this story is that it is a narrative story and not a fictional story. But another negative is that the story lengthens and has some information that i didnt find needed for the story making the book a lot longer.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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