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Summary

Jefferson is an innocent and unwitting party to a deadly liquor store shoot-out in the 1940s. As the only survivor, he is tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Grant Wiggins, a university-trained teacher at the plantation school, is persuaded to visit Jefferson in his cell. Wiggins is torn between staying in his native Cajun community or moving on. The 2 men gradually form a bond as they jointly discover the simple heroism of resisting - and denying - the expected.
©1995 Ernest J. Gaines, All Rights Reserved, Abridgment Approved by the Author (P)16 9; 1995 Time Warner AudioBooks and Juneteenth Audio Books, Time Warner AudioBooks Is a Joint Venture of The Atlantic Group and Time Warner Trade Publishing

Critic reviews

An Oprah Book Club selection.

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Lesson Before Dying

Very heart felt story beautifully told. Such a sad narrative. I find it difficult to accept that people can judge so unfairly, with devastating consequences. How many innocent people were murdered by the law this way? The journey of the incident right through to the very end is about Jefferson, how his family Nan Nan and everyone is impacted. The defence were right, the murder and robbery was not Jefferson. Not a thing, or a hog but a strong, innocent man with the support of the teacher. Some seriously thought provoking story, told brilliantly. Saddening, true and disgusted by the attitudes and inequalities which should be told to allow anyone to see what happened, what one mans support for another and to prepare him to stand strong and be a man is a difficult journey to hear. The impact and difference one teacher has on Jefferson, provided him with strength and courage with new experiences which helped him.

This should be listened to by everyone, after all no money for the book, or the couple of hours you spare to listen are priceless. The lessons you learn, with your perspective and thoughts challenged and understand why change was needed to allow equality for all. Every one has rights and a voice. Be grateful for this.

Already listening to this again. Beautifully written and narrated and heartbreakingly honest like the book the colour purple.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amie
  • 09-02-12

Misses the mark

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

There is a significant amount of the novel not included in this reading. I was very disappointed that so much is skipped and left out.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 04-04-06

Just like the old Sears radio hour

This is too good to be true. I remember long ago listening to the old Sears radio hour and listening to the show while imagining what was happening. This book is very well done.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kathleen
  • 05-09-03

Wonderful narration!

The narrator(s) brought the characters emotionally alive and unambiguous. The story is wonderfully written -- tightly woven but the author takes his time so you can get to know the characters. I look for more from this team.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Anaigutierrez
  • 15-05-17

Only has a couple chapters not the whole book.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I'm not fan of reading so I prefer when I GET BOOKS FROM AUDIBLE THAT THEY HAVE THE WHOLE CHAPTERS OF THE BOOKS

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Eun Sol
  • 04-05-09

diappointed


it helps me to read book..but..
it is not full contents
that makes me sad...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • marie
  • 11-12-14

Great book, but skip the audio and get the Kindle.

If you could sum up A Lesson Before Dying in three words, what would they be?

This is a beautiful story. Tragic and breathtaking, but the narration kills it. Jefferson's voice is mealy-mouthed and terrible. He's narrated in a way that is almost condescending, which takes away from the beauty and strength of his character. It might work if the voice changed to match the change in character, but this unfortunately does not happen.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Lesson Before Dying?

This entire book was memorable.

What three words best describe Lionel Mark Smith and Roger Guenveur Smith ’s performance?

The one who narrated Jefferson needs to find new work. The person who narrated Grant did a great job. They may be the same person. I didn't actually check who narrated which.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Breathtaking.

Any additional comments?

Just read it. It's amazing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Carol
  • 30-11-05

An emotionally gripping story...

Skillfully written, deeply emotional, and well worth my time. Very eye opening and exquistely eye-opening. This story unlike anything I had read or heard, but now in retrospect, I am very appreciative of the opportunity to have come across this marvellously written piece of work.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-08-18

Timeless story about the American justice system

Loved the story.
Narrator needed better emotional characterization and dynamics on voices, but I got used to it after first chapter.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Brooklyn Kleckley
  • 01-08-18

Narrator was amazing!

I am a big fan of audio books and of all the ones I’ve listened to I’ve never been able to follow along as well as I did with this one. From the multiple voices and tones to the vernacular and the vivid descriptions, this book simply amazed me.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 11-04-18

I loved it.

A powerful story. I experience many emotions.The narrator was awesome I read it 3 *
Diana Smith