All the Days Past, All the Days to Come

Book review by
Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
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Young woman finds independence in compelling saga finale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The book brings to life the world of African American families affected by the Great Migration, when families moved to the North and West, where they could get jobs in factories, buy homes, and escape the strict segregation of the Jim Crow South. It also covers attempts to register Black voters by Southern Black activists and Freedom Riders, Black and White.

Positive Messages

It gets better. No matter what you’re up against, change is possible through hard work, staying true to yourself, and accepting kindness wherever you find it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Logan family represents a Black family successfully striving to enter the middle class through an array of paths: factory work, the practice of law, property development, and entrepreneurship. A prominent subplot involves a happy, loving Mexican family who own a restaurant. Racist White characters are balanced by helpful ones, such as a lawyer who fights racism despite being the son of a slaveholder, a White man who helps his friend escape a lynch mob, and a Northern White family who welcome their son's Black girlfriend to their home. The changing roles of women is a secondary theme. Cassie struggles for independence amid family expectations, the overprotective attitudes of her brothers, and her female elders' advice about marriage and children. She rebels from her mother's hope that she become a teacher and pursues a law career instead.

Violence

The book focuses on the experiences of a Black family in the U.S. during the time period between the end of World War II and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It depicts the various incidents of racial violence their community endures, including a Black woman raped by a white sheriff, beatings, shootings, lynchings, police brutality, and the assassination of Medgar Evars. There are violent acts of self-defense: a black man beats three white men with a crowbar and a black man beats a white man for raping his wife. A black man is set on fire. A white activist is seriously beaten by segregationists. A business owner sexually harasses his employee. A male doctor attempts to sexually assault a female patient.

Sex

Sexuality and romance are addressed in a manner that is most appropriate for mature readers. Women and men discuss infidelity, chastity, promiscuity, the importance of good sex, and social issues surrounding interracial sexual relationships.

Language

The "N" word is used repeatedly in the dialogue of racist white characters.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character feels dizzy after drinking alcohol for the first time, sangria at a Mexican restaurant. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All the Days Past, All the Days to Come is Mildred D. Taylor's conclusion to the 10-book series that began with Newbery Award-winner Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The series covers four generations of the Logans, an African American family who own their own land in Mississippi. This book is narrated by Cassie, who was 9 years old at the beginning of the series. Now in her early 20s, she moves to various cities in the United States, works, marries, and attains a law degree. The book focuses on the experiences of a black family in the U.S. between the end of World War II and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It depicts the racial violence their community endures, including a Black woman raped by a white sheriff, beatings, shootings, lynchings, police brutality, and the assassination of Medgar Evars. There are violent acts of self-defense: A Black man beats three White men with a crowbar, and a Black man beats a white man for raping his wife. A black man is set on fire. A White activist is seriously beaten by segregationists. A business owner sexually harasses his employee. A male doctor attempts to sexually assault a female patient. Sexuality and romance are addressed in a manner that's most appropriate for mature readers. Women and men discuss infidelity, chastity, promiscuity, the importance of good sex, and social issues surrounding interracial sexual relationships. The "N" word is used repeatedly in the dialogue by white characters. A character gets tipsy drinking alcohol for the first time, sangria with a meal at a Mexican restaurant. 

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What's the story?

When ALL THE DAYS PAST, ALL THE DAYS TO COME begins, Cassie and her brother Little Man are going home to visit their parents. Little Man has just returned from World War II in Europe. Four siblings and their spouses prepare to move out of the South, as part of the Great Migration of African Americans. Following jobs, they move through Ohio, Tennessee, Colorado, and California. Though they encounter racism in every part of the U.S., they also find "angels," helpful and welcoming people who support and mentor them. African American professionals, White immigrants who feel solidarity with them, a Mexican family, and an array of other Americans cross their paths. Cassie, mentored by both Black and white attorneys, gets a law degree, passes the bar, and gets involved in the civil rights movement. 

Is it any good?

This very satisfying story educates without lecturing. All the Days Past, All the Days to Come concludes the family saga Mildred D. Taylor launched in 1976 with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, winner of the Newbery Medal. The book stands alone as the story of an admirable young woman building a life in a world that doesn't always grant Black people or women their human dignity. At the same time, readers who love these characters will enjoy seeing the children from earlier books take care of their parents, produce their own children, and thrive as a changing country opens new horizons for them. The book is most suitable for mature readers, due to potentially upsetting discussions of violence as well as talk of adult romance, sexuality, and marriage. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the characters in All the Days Past, All the Days to Come react to change. Which changes do the Logans embrace and which ones do they fear? What do you think makes the difference for them?

  • Cassie's brother disapproves of her life in what he calls "a white world." Her grandmother and aunt worry that she isn't looking for a husband. Where do you think Cassie gets the confidence to step outside of the family expectations.

  • In the epilogue, Cassie reports that she rode a bus over the Freedom Riders' route to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama. Why do you think the author chose to include an event that takes place about 40 years after the previous scene?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Black history and stories of tolerance

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