Sunset over Norwood

A book review By Honna Brown

One positive fruit of limited life at Lydia’s House (due to the pandemic) is that we have been able to set aside some time for shared reading. Together as a staff we have been reading Isabel Wilkerson’s book “The Warmth of Other Suns.” The book follows three main characters on their journey during a time in American history known as The Great Migration, which is one of the most underreported stories of the 20th century. The book, based on more than a thousand interviews, retells the story of each character and why he or she decided to flee the only life and place she or he had ever known. The book spans a whopping six decades in America history and three different geological locations that enslaved Africans of the south fled to in hopes of gaining greater access to freedom and opportunity. Not sparing any details, Wilkerson describes the violent oppression of the American South and what enslaved African families had to endure under the leadership of white sharecroppers and plantation owners.  She sets the stage to allow readers to enter into conversations about current racial disparity with a greater historical context, allowing us to see the igniting points for systems of oppression that have been with us throughout the development of our nation. Yet, amidst the descriptions of struggle, Wilkerson also manages to capture the strength of each character and the community surrounding them. She distills their moments of joy and captures the small moments of their lives, which ultimately reveals their breathtaking courage and humanity. We highly recommend this book. If you read it, please let us know what you think!