Viking has announced the January 2020 publication of All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, the fifth and final novel in Mildred D. Taylor’s Logan Family saga, whose cover is revealed here for the first time. The sequence, which centers on this African-American Mississippi family and chronicles the civil rights movement, began in 1975 with Song of the Trees, a novella illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, and continued with the Newbery-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), Let the Circle Be Unbroken (1981), The Road to Memphis (1990), and a prequel, The Land (2001).
In All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, which will have a first printing of 100,000 copies, Cassie Logan is now a young woman, searching for her place in the world, a journey that takes her from Toledo to California, to law school in Boston, and, ultimately, in the 1960s, home to Mississippi to join the voter registration drive.
The novel was edited by Regina Hayes, editor-at-large at Viking, who first worked with Taylor more than four decades ago, after the author won the African-American segment of a writing contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books, for her manuscript that became Song of the Trees. “I had recently arrived at Dial as senior editor, and Mildred interviewed Phyllis Fogelman [then editor-in-chief] and me, along with editors at other houses, who were also interested in acquiring the manuscript,” Hayes recalled.
Taylor selected Dial as her publisher, and Hayes became editor of the debut. “Mildred and I worked closely together on the book,” she said. “She is a wonderful writer, but the manuscript was a bit too lyrical, so I said, ‘This is beautiful, but it’s too long—remember that your audience is 10! It’s the story that matters.’ ”
After finishing Song of the Trees, Taylor moved on to her second book, a novel that took Hayes by pleasant surprise. “When I first read Roll of Thunder, I literally got shivers,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘Can this possibly be so brilliant?’ I was amazed at the leap Mildred made between her first two books. She is such a compelling storyteller.”
Though close to two decades have passed since the publication of The Land, the penultimate book about the Logans, Hayes noted that All the Days Past “had been percolating in Mildred’s mind for a long time. I started working with her on the novel three or four years ago. She wrote numerous drafts and was a wonderful reviser, tinkering with the manuscript every time she read it over. This was a daunting task for her, but she felt she had a responsibility to finish the Logan family story, and I am so pleased for her that she did.”
Hayes called the new book’s cover, designed by Jessica Jenkins, junior designer at Penguin Young Readers, “truly striking. I think it is miraculous how a designer can come up with a cover concept that captures the story so perfectly, as is the case here. Cassie’s story is a journey in so many ways, and this novel both begins and ends with an actual, physical journey.”
For Taylor, writing this family saga over more than 40 years has also been a journey, rewarding if at times grueling, and always purposeful. Soon after the publication of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the author wrote, “It is my hope that to the children who read my books, the Logans will provide those heroes missing from the schoolbooks of my childhood, Black men, women, and children of whom they can be proud.” And in a recent statement, she conceded that completing that mission with All the Days Past, All the Days to Come is bittersweet: “It saddens me that this book is the end, but there is also a sense of relief. I am done!”
All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor. Viking, $18.99 Jan. 2020 ISBN 978-0-399-25730-8