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When I bought this book, I immediately told myself I was going to cry buckets over it. I lied. I cried rivers. Seas. OCEANS, even.
None of the reviews on this site are objective(how could they be?) but this one is a little less objective than usual. The family in this book and the nine preceding it have been a part of my life for too long and echo my own family experience too closely. I took this book personally, and it didn’t disappoint at all.
Our protagonist, Cassie Logan, returns to narrate this book as she has most of the others in the series. After growing up in the Jim Crow South, she heads North with her brother Stacey to pursue an education and better employment opportunities. At the start of the book, she’s an educated young Black woman in Ohio, just as mouthy and independent as ever. She maintains a connection to her Mississippi roots, however, and soon finds herself a leading-edge civil rights revolutionary while her brothers head off to fight in WWII. Without giving away too much of the story from there, I can tell you that Cassie travels the world, loves hard, and fights injustice, although not always in that order. Accompanying her in spirit, if not always in presence, are her parents, grandmother, three brothers and temperamental Uncle Hammer, as well as all her friends from back home (Ey, Moe!) and plenty of new people Cassie meets as she finds her way.
These characters feel like old friends, but I don’t think you need to read the previous books to enjoy this one. The story of living in an unjust world that isn’t changing fast enough holds up on its own, and in these times, revisiting the history of great social change is cathartic and inspiring.
Life is a path that often winds its way to unexpected destinations. Not everyone makes great choices and not everyone has a happy ending.(There’s one character, present in many of the previous novels, whose story ends with one brief, sad mention–and it tore me up). As Cassie’s path winds into the late 1960’s, it can be hard to watch where her choices take her–but that’s life. So is the pride when she decides to stand up for what’s right and do her bit to change an unjust world, knowing it echoes the real life decisions of all those who have gone before us, and many of those who are to come. It’s a bit bittersweet, but this novel is a fitting end to the saga of a beautiful family. I highly recommend it and the previous 9 in the series–there’s nothing like them in American fiction.
Thank you, Ms. Taylor, for such a heartfelt and emotional ending to an unparalleled series integral to the Black American literary canon. 5 stars to All The Days Past, All The Days To Come.
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