Reader Review from Grayson Hugh
5.0 out of 5 stars | A New Classic
The Last Thing You Surrender, is more, much more, than a dry treatise on the subject of racism. It is a love story, a human story, a story of war and peace, it is a story about the love, pain, the joys and sorrows that pass between a parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, sister and brother.
It is the story of what is learned and lost between forces of good and evil. It is eloquent, heartbreaking and beautiful. It is a new classic. Read it, America; read it, world.
And learn some more about that most tremendous gift of all that the Creator gave us: the ability to see things through another's eyes, to care deeply about someone other than one's self, in short, to love.
Goodreads Review: Linda rated it as 5-star-winner
"Do not tolerate disrespect, not even from yourself." (Unknown)
The Last Thing You Surrender is a bountiful harvest of life at its core. Amongst the wheat being separated from the chaff, the edible grains eventually fall to the threshing floor. Every breath taken is part of that process. Every step taken must be in the direction in which goodness rises to the surface, nothing less.
Leonard Pitts Jr. presents a sweeping saga of events during the Jim Crow era in the South. He sets his story down among the upscale residential avenues of Mobile as well as the dusty back roads on the outskirts of the city. World War II leans hard with heavy demand for warfare and the intense preparation of men and women who wear the uniform. Shipping out is a given. When is in the hands of the powers that be.
Pitts injects a bolt of lightning from the very first pages. We meet Marine Private George Simon who is thrown from his top bunk as his ship suffers life threatening damage at Pearl Harbor. George has been injured and can barely lift himself from the floor. It's evident that the ship is taking on water at a rapid rate. Gordy, an African American working in the mess hall, hears his cries and assures George that they will find a way out. But it is Gordy who will never reach the surface on that day.
Driven by guilt, George visits Gordy's widow, Thelma, after being released from the hospital. His intention is to tell her what actually transpired during those hours aboard ship. Both individuals are filled with the awkwardness of the moment enmeshed in the unspoken rituals of the deep South. Pitts sets this scenario up as the staircase leading to the vastness of a time embroiled by hatred, bigotry, oppression, and inhumanity.
With the doorway cracked open, we, as readers, will follow the pathways unfolding in the lives of George, Thelma, Luther who is Thelma's brother, and John Simon who is George's attorney father. There will be a backdrop of war, friendship, family issues, societal norms, and the poisonous hate that spews from the soulless. But there will also be the unfurling of hope, humanity, and decency within the stellar writing of Leonard Pitts. He sees to it that life is laid bare with all of its rawness and realism. And that is the impetus for turning page after page......to see it through......to find the worthy grains that should be within all of us. From the first days of Creation to the last.
Editorial Reviews: The Last Thing You Surrender
“Seamlessly integrates impressive research into a compelling tale of America at war—overseas, at home, and within ourselves, as we struggle to find the better angels of our nature. Pitts poignantly illustrates ongoing racial and class tensions, and offers hope that we can overcome hatred by refusing to sacrifice dignity.”
—Booklist, starred review
“The Last Thing You Surrender is a story of our nation at war, with itself as well as tyranny across the globe. It’s an American tapestry of hatred, compassion, fear, courage, and cruelties, leavened with the promise of triumph. A powerful story I will not soon forget.”
—James R. Benn, author of the Billy Boyle WWII Mystery series
“Leonard Pitts, Jr. does it again. He interweaves stories that grip you from beginning to end. Set during WWII, it shows how race relations in America haven't advanced much. The Last Thing You Surrender will have you entranced with the story, and it will stick with you even after you complete the last page.”
—Southfield Public Library
“I couldn't put it down, and it left me stunned! It’s such a harsh novel, yet at the same time, it’s a hopeful novel that is so relevant today. I'm already telling people about it.”
—Pete Mock, McIntyre's Books, Pittsboro, North Carolina