Book Review: “Life is So Good” by George Dawson

20 Jul

Throughout my years in school, I have found it difficult to get motivated. I love learning, but doing actual homework and studying for exams can get a bit monotonous over time. After reading Life Is So Good, I need to rethink my priorities. George Dawson, the narrator and subject of the book, never seemed to lack in motivation and perseverance. So much of his life was unpredictable and often dangerous, but that did not stop him from living it to the fullest.

From the beginning of the book, and essentially Dawson’s life, he was working hard. As a farmer’s son, he learned the value and necessity of hard work and its benefits, no matter how small. He knew that family came first and he recognized the need his parents had for his help. I too grew up learning that working hard paid off, but I certainly did not have the life Dawson had. I can’t remember the last time I got up before dawn, but Dawson did it every day, even when he was little boy. His willingness to be so helpful to his parents is admirable, as were the conditions he had to live in at the time in Marshall, Texas.

Discrimination was a large part of Dawson’s life, adding frustration and cruelty to his already difficult situation. Reading about how horribly he and other African Americans were treated at the time was so shocking. Of course I had learned in history classes that racism was a major feature in United States history, but reading it from the viewpoint of someone who had experienced it so often and was able to retell his exposure to it really made it concrete. Dawson’s ability to recreate such history made me feel like I was there, watching his life happen all over. One of his classmates in his reading class said that, “With Mr. Dawson here, history goes way back. History is real” (Dawnson and Glaubman, 229). Since the majority of us living today have never experienced history like Dawson, his recollection made it possible to understand it a bit better and realize that these events occurred and affected many people. There were times that I thought that he could have stood up to the people that belittled him, but his explanations as to why he didn’t were valid. I cannot imagine how difficult it was to see his friend Pete hanged for a rape he did not commit, but back then, that was common. White people were cowards and did not seem to have any guilt when they placed their injustices on others. Dawson expressed his anger and frustration towards white people, but he made it a point to understand that that was the way society was back then. The way white people treated African Americans was not fair or justifiable. Just as he knew that challenging a white person would cause trouble, Dawson realized that white people could be ostracized for not treating African Americans they way the rest of the white community did.

While reading about Dawson’s years of traveling, I realized that I wished it was that easy. Not to say that his decision to leave his family and a consistent job was effortless, but that he wasn’t worried about what might happen along the way. At the end of the book, he discusses how people today should worry less. As a natural worrywart, I can’t imagine how he lived through so many of his lifetime experiences and yet didn’t seem to worry. He knew that something would come at the right time, whatever it was he needed and it seemed that much of what he relied on was answered by people showing kindness and generosity. Kindness has great powers and this was proven throughout Dawson’s life, be it the Canadian men helping him find snow, or the homeless men and women who would share what little food they had. Dawson was sure to repay the kindness in some way, but it was sure to come back to him again.

Dawson’s kindness continues today with him staying in school and learning how to read. Though he’s admitted to wanting to take days off, he doesn’t because he knows that if he slacked, his classmates would follow suit. They rely on him to be a role model and motivate them to succeed. This is his message throughout the book and I wouldn’t doubt if a lot of people recognized the potential they could have if they work hard and never stop learning. I hope to one day be motivated enough to continue learning because there is never a reason not to.

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