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In the run up to the January release of All The Days Past, All The Days Yet To Come, I did myself a favor and re-read all the of books in the Logan Family Saga by Mildred D. Taylor. The evocative 9-book series follows a Black American family in Jim Crow-era Mississippi who own land and rely on each other for the strength to keep it, beginning with the novella Song Of The Trees but best known for Newbery Award-winner Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
Chronologically, however, the first book in the series is The Land. It tells the story of how Paul- Edward Logan, emancipated slave and the mixed-race son of his former owner, first acquired the property that the family works hard to keep in the racist, segregated, post-Civil War American South. It’s a story of hard work, heartache and bittersweet triumph over unfairness.
Unlike the other books in the series, which are narrated by sassy Cassie Logan, this book is in the voice of her grandfather, Paul-Edward. Cassie is one of my all-time favorite book protagonists and while it’s nice to read the perspective of someone from her history that she loves but never knew, his voice just isn’t as interesting as hers. The book is beautifully written but he’s just a little too serious. We get to see some of the characters who are old and wise in Cassie’s life, like Big Ma and Mr Jamison, as young, impulsive people, but much of the fun there lies in being familiar with them from other books. Ultimately, while this is very good, it’s my least favorite in the series and not as essential.
Like the Logans, I am descended from formerly enslaved people who worked hard and at one point owned land in the South. Unlike the Logans, my family lost their land and my grandmother often spoke of it with regret. For this reason, these books have a deep personal resonance for me and probably many others. However, I’d recommend reading them in publication order, not chronological, because this book is very much an addendum to the main stories narrated by Cassie. I don’t know if I’d have loved Paul-Edward if I wasn’t already familiar with the next generation and their love for him.
(Fellow readers, this is one of my favorite book series and I hope you do check it out for yourself someday. If you choose to do so at the links you click from this site, know that a commission will be earned for this blog because it is an affiliate of Bookshop.)