In this remarkable book, 103-year-old George Dawson, a slave's grandson who learned to read at age 98, reflects on his life and offers valuable lessons in living as well as a fresh, firsthand view of America during the twentieth century. Richard Glaubman captures Dawson's irresistible voice and view of the world, offering insights into humanity, history, hardships, and happiness. From segregation and civil rights, to the wars, presidents, and defining moments in history, George Dawson's description and assessment of the last century inspires readers with the message that-through it all-has sustained him: "Life is so good. I do believe it's getting better." Summary and image from goodreads.com
My Review: George Dawson was born to work hard. As the oldest of seven, he had to start working with his father at the age of four. Just a few short years later, he was sent to work full time on a farm a few hours away from home. He worked harder and in more varied jobs than most of us will ever work in our lifetimes, and he did it with a smile.
His greatest regret, however, was also his darkest secret. George never learned how to read. Working as much as he did never provided time, but it's also a secret he kept from his own children until they were in high school. However, just because he couldn't read doesn't mean his mind isn't as sharp as a tack. Through a series of interviews, George tells us about life over the last 100 years. He remembers the events that affected the African-American community, retells the shock of traveling outside the country and witnessing a life outside of Jim Crow, and relives the good times as well as the bad.
At 98, George finally went to school to learn to read. Through snippets, we learn his impact on those around him, the joy he finally found in reading, and what he considers his greatest successes.
This book was such an uplifting read. It was one I was able to finish in a weekend (and a busy one at that ... the Portugal/US game took up more than a little chunk of time), but that I was sad to finally lay down. It left me feeling grateful for my education, grateful for the opportunities we have, and humbled at the easy road my generation has had with our educations.
My Rating: Four and a half stars
For the Sensitive Reader: Multiple uses of the "N" word, and the book opens with an unjustified lynching.