I Finished Reading The Warmth of Other Suns

I finished reading Isabel Wilkerson’s Warmth of Other Suns. It’s about the Great Migration, it was beautifully-written. I truly enjoyed it. It is about 538 pages, but it reads so quickly because it’s so interesting. As I mentioned in the other post, it follows the lives of 3 people Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, Robert Joseph Pershing Foster and George Swanson Starling. These are three real people and Wilkerson tells the story of their lives briefly before the Great Migration, during the Migration itself, life in the new northern cities and the aftermath. For some reason, I got very sad toward the end of the book and I started crying.

I cried because I had gotten to know each character throughout the book and we watched them grow as readers from when they were children in the south, picking cotton, struggling to get education, playing around outside. We see them get married and go to school and we follow the ups and downs of their lives more or less and when we get to the end, suddenly they all start to pass away. It was like losing a friend you had grown so fond of. What truly struck me was that, I got the feeling with some of them, they had high expectations that were never fufilled in their lives. Yet, it was touching that each of them found something they loved by the end of the book and died at least being able to choose something they loved.

What really brought me to tears was thinking about my own life. I thought about how I take things for granted, how I’ve been wasting my prime years being sad, isolated and lonely, which I have felt more or less for the past few years. I miss my friends, I miss being happy. I look at their lives and the things they went through and it makes me wonder if I have it so bad. They watched the world change around them, they watched the post migration northern cities transform over their live. Sometimes they watched drugs overcome their communities, but in other ways, they flourished.

The book just scared me a little bit because just like I have hopes, dreams and can look ahead as a somewhat younger adult, they had hopes and dreams, some of which they may or may not have accomplished, and they lived… then they died.

The book made me yearn for companionship. When the people grew older, they had more or less friends and family to call on and I’ve felt so isolated that I miss having the connections that I had in highschool. I just felt very emotional after reading it. It made me rethink some things about myself. I so want to come out of this “funk” that I’m in and live my life because I know that someday, God willing if I make it into old age hopefully, I’ll be old as they are and then one day…. I’ll go home as we all will.  It made me want to go back to church, something that I miss.

Also, I went and looked up Strauss-Howe generational theory. They are two sociologist who study generations. You know each generation has it’s own name and they theorize that in addition to history shaping generations, generations also shape history. They divided history into cycles, but I’ll explain more details about their theory later. Just know that my generation, The Millenials, are generally children of the Baby Boomers. They are the generation who were born after WWII during the influx of births. The rebellious generation, the Black Panthers, the Hippies. While my generation is the technology generation. My grandparents were The Greatest Generation or The Silent Generation.

When I was reading their theory, they said that The Baby Boomers were becoming the elder generation, Generation X (those who grew up in the 1980s) were midlifers, my generations was young adults. The older generations, my grandparents were dying pretty much. This brings me back to The Warmth of Other Suns. It scares me how time can pass so quickly because when I was little I remember just only seeing grandparents as being people of my grandparents generation, the people who fought in WWII, the people who grew up during Jim Crow. They were it, they were the grandparents, my parents were the parents and we were the kids…that’s was it period.

It’s strange to think how quickly things are changing. My mother is pushing sixty, I no longer have any living grandparents, I’m a young adult, some of my friends have their own children. Time is going by. Now, sociologist confirm that times are indeed changings as the generations that are ascending into the ranks of elders are my mother and father generation. It scares me.

It makes me want to go out and change things, but I don’t even know where to start in terms of living my life.

1. I can walk more

2. Going to Bible study tomorrow

3. Start dressing nicer

4. Go Out More (where though when I’m so cut off from my friends…that’s the issue)

These are the only things I can think of right now. I want to meet someone, I want to fall in love and enjoy my youth, but I feel like I can’t do that for some reason. I feel like my generation is the most isolated and cut off, if not for technology I might have no contact with other people. My parents met eachother in elementary school. Many of the grandparent and great aunts/uncles met their spouses in school. I went to a mostly white school where  I wasn’t going to meet anymore because, let’s face it, most people stay within their own race. So, I know have to revamp and figure out a whole new way to meet people, like myself who are Black, that is different than they way previous generations would go about meeting people.  I know that meeting other Black people is a struggle for a lot of Black people my age. If one thing that the Great Migration did that may have had a bit of a negative effect to it would be that it created a little too much assimilation. In my opine. Just a bit too much.

I don’t know, the book was great, but it made me think a lot. Maybe it’s just cuz I have PMS that I started crying, but I just know that I want to enjoy my life and I feel so isolated.

5 thoughts on “I Finished Reading The Warmth of Other Suns”

  1. Nice post.

    Can I relate my own personal story?

    Well my situation isn’t that far removed from yours. My parents really did LIVE when they were young. I remember when I was young, by my age they were just about to get married and start a family, they had travelled, they were even somewhat active politically and had a lot of friends not to mention family. I mean if I compare that to where I am right now, then I guess I’d be a bit like “Hmm so where along the line did I take the wrong turn?”

    But, I’ve come to discover times are changing and that means how we are growing up and feeling about ourselves is changing as well. For the most part, they grew up in a different world. We live in a world that is more isolated and more demanding not to mention more shallow and superficial. One aspect of technology is that it increases isolation – check the research out. I also just read another article the other day in one of the newspapers about a new phase of growing up. Back then, they became mature really quick, took and could handle responsibility. Now between the ages of 20-30 we have this thing called the “Emerging Adult” which is like, you are there but not completely. So it’s kinda weird.

    Here, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_adulthood and another snippet http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/wellness/story/2012-07-30/Emerging-adults-18-29-still-attached-to-parents/56575404/1

    Finally I just want to say, it’s sorta weird feeling like you haven’t really started living, having that desire to do so, but also finding that, that is somewhat just beyond the reach of where you currently are.


  2. I read and really enjoyed the Warmth of Other Suns…I too shed tears at certain points of the book but for slightly different reasons. My mom took a huge leap of faith and migrated her three children from Africa, almost 20 years ago; though our journey has not been easy it was much clearer because of the courage of thousands of people like the three characters in the book.

    I understand how you are feeling, technology has created distance between us. The book mentions how because of the hostile nature of the time, black people traveling across the nation made a point of knowing other black people because many times that was the only way they could get a meal or a place to sleep. There was a sense of togetherness.

    We are faced with a thousand choices everyday, from the groceries we buy to the TV channel we wanna watch. This may signify freedom but can also be paralyzing. The challenge of this generation is to figure out how to work within these unique circumstances and come out victorious so that we can live the life we were meant to.


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