Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #81: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

While the book may be large, and information packed, it isn’t necessarily very dense non-fiction. I couldn’t zip through it like a novel, but it wasn’t as dense as some other non-fiction I’ve read. From what I’ve recently discovered, this book would probably count as narrative nonfiction. Using the lives of three separate participants of the Great Migration, Wilkerson explores the causes and effects of the Great Migration, puts some myths to rest and shows how the effects can still be felt to this day. Her three subjects represent different aspects of the Great Migration, though they are close to each other in age, Ida Mae being the oldest of them. All three are from different regions, ended up settling in different parts of the North and West, and left the South in a different decade. Since Wilkerson explains that the train lines basically determined where people went, which is why Chicago tends to have people with a background from Mississippi, Newark and New York migrants tend to be from the southern east coast, and so forth (I can’t quite remember all the examples but it was fascinating). As a result, her choices made perfect sense to me. Ida Mae Gladney was a sharecropper’s wife that left Mississippi in the ’30s and ended up in Chicago after a short stay in Milwaukee. George Starling fled Florida in the ’40s after he had protested against unfair wages, and settled in New York City. Robert Foster, a doctor, left his home in Louisiana (and his wife’s home of Atlanta) for the opportunities of LA in the 1950s. The three combined represent different backgrounds, destinations, and social-economic classes.

Full Review.

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