Saturday, February 18, 2012

"The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" by Ernest J. Gaines

272 pages

This novel--written as an autobiography--spans more than one hundred years of Miss Jane Pittman's remarkable life. She recalls decades of American history, from her childhood as a slave on a Louisiana plantation to the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. By sharing her personal experiences, Miss Jane shows what daily life was like for a black woman throughout these time periods.

This is a really fascinating story. Before I started reading it, I expected to learn all kinds of things about the historical events that happened during Miss Jane's life. That's not really the case, but in a way it's a better story for that. When I thought about it, I realized that real autobiographies don't usually focus on what's happening in the world--they focus on what's happening in that person's life. Of course, the big events affect people's lives, but by getting the personal experiences instead of news updates, we learn more about what it was like to live throughout the different time periods. Although Miss Jane shares her stories, she doesn't often reveal her feelings about the things that happen to her. Although this seems to fit with her practical personality, I wish we readers got to hear more of her personal opinions. Still, this is a super-interesting story about one incredible woman's journey through several pivotal points in American history.

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