Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Gaines, Ernest J. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Read by Lynn Thigpen. New York: Recorded Books, 1994.

Reason read: February is Black History month

Miss Jane Pittman could be your great-grandmother, she is that real of a character. I’m sure listening to this on audio had something to do with that perception. When 100 year old Miss Pittman tells her life story to an unidentified high school history teacher it’s as if she is sitting in your living room. Beginning when she was ten years old and freed from slavery in the deep south, she recounts her journey to leave the Louisiana plantation she has known all her life. She is looking for the white abolitionist who gave her new “free” name. All she knows is that he is somewhere in Ohio. So, to Ohio she heads. Along the way she befriends an orphan boy and encounters seemingly overwhelming obstacles. But, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say, overcome these obstacles, she does. She raises the orphan boy as her own and even though she doesn’t make it out of Louisiana, forges a life for herself.
One point of observation is that while Miss Jane Pittman has lived a long life, you don’t hear her talk a lot about her own personal life. She would rather discuss the people around her and how they influenced her.

Quotes to quote, ‘”…America is for all of us.” he said,”and all of America is for all of us”‘ (p 115), “He wasn’t aiming to break the door in, he wanted to chop it down” (p 195), and my favorite, “And I will eat vanilla ice cream which I loves and enjoys” (p 219).

Author fact: I could have read this last month in honor of Gaines’s birth month. He was born in January.

Narrator funny: There were times when I was reminded of the actress Whoopie Goldberg when listening to Ms. Thigpen.

Book trivia: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was made into a movie. The release date was January 11th, 2005.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the early chapter called “African American Fiction: He Say” (p 11).



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