I love true stories that are woven into narratives, particularly books by journalists (surprise, surprise). Not only do I enjoy learning the story itself, but I also get a kick out of hearing about how the author researched, sourced and organized the book.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration fell into this category. I never would’ve picked up this book — about the migration of blacks to the north in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s — had my book club not chosen it for our March read. But that’s the point of belonging to a book club, isn’t it? To read books I might not have otherwise read.
And I’m sure glad I read this one. At 550 pages (and that doesn’t even count the methodology or notes sections), it was longer than I would’ve liked — my attention span is pathetically short — but such a fabulous read. The author, Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, weaves together the stories of three African Americans who made the move and led altogether-difficult lives. I feel smarter after finishing this book, like I learned about a piece of American history I should’ve studied in high school.
And the amazing part is that it’s not ancient history; the atrocities that Wilkerson describes in such agonizing detail happened only decades ago, not centuries. It’s shameful to realize that Americans treated a segment of the population so poorly for so long.
If you like narrative non-fiction, history books or simply a good story, pick this one up. I give it four out of five stars. (Wait, did I just make up a rating system for this blog? Why I think I did.)