Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Hi everyone,

Set in Florida in the early 1900s, Zora Neale Hurston's 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God  shares Janie Crawford's story so far – from her starry-eyed teenage years to wiser womanhood. Through years of ups and downs, she marries a few times, finds love, survives a hurricane, and is tried for murder. She needs a therapist, in my opinion, but just telling her story to her close friend Phoebe is more her style.

Janie is an amazing character who is always growing and striving for what she wants in life, an admirable heroine in whatever circumstance that is thrown at her. I found myself sad and angry whenever bad things happened to her, but with these experiences behind her, she gains earned confidence in her own independence.

I liked this book (and love the cover image), but I admired the writing more than the story. What sets this book apart from others is its authenticity. What I thought would be a quick, easy read felt more like Shakespeare at times. The narration is poetic, sparking imagery that perfectly captures Janie's state of mind. The dialogue is written phonetically to match the African-American characters' dialect, reminding the reader of the reality of Janie's place and time. Like Shakespeare, you get used to the vernacular and appreciate the writer's impressive accomplishment.

This story isn't a particularly happy one, but it's real and timeless. You experience Janie's emotional growth – fearlessness and fear, desire and courage, love and loss, acceptance and wisdom – and you feel richer having gone through it all with her.


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