Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Re-Educaton of a Reader - The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. Recently, however, it has come to my attention that there are some G A P I N G holes in my literary education. For example: I have read every Austen and Bronte you can get your hands on, but somehow had never, until 4 years ago, managed to read a Charles Dickens novel in its entirety. So, with a little help from my mom, the English Teacher, and a couple of good friend, the English Majors, I am setting a course to re-educate myself by filling in some of those gaps.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
first published 1982
295 pages
winner of the National Book Award for fiction, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction

(recommended by an English Major)

Synopsis -

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. 

My thoughts -

I knew before I started this would be a good book. I had read two of Walker's short story collections in college, and they were some of my favorite discussions in class. So, as per usual, I just waited about 15 years before picking up her most famous work of fiction. :)

This book is an excellent work. I found the epistolary format to be especially effective at telling Celie's story in her own words. Celie's words were not easy to read - often they were devastating. Her story is sometimes brutal, but often beautiful. Despite the difficult subject matter, I flew through the pages, laughing and shaking my fist and crying and rejoicing in turn. 

While I understand why this book has been frequently challenged, I wouldn't stop a teen from reading it. I think it's an honest and forthright depiction of the way in which women were treated in our country, and it's not something we can pretend or ignore away. I would hope this novel would open up conversations about racism and sexism that are important.

I think this will be a novel that will remain with me for a very long time. I'm so glad I finally decided to read it. Highly, highly recommended.

Finished - 4/25/16
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for violence and sexual situations
My rating - 5/5


Carolynn said...

OK, adding it to my TBR. i have some of the same gaps you do. :)
I finally read Hitchiker's GUide to the Galaxy recently - not the same genre obviously, but one of the classic sci fi stories i always knew i needed to get around to. and it was not at all what i expected, and completely awesome!

Tea Norman said...

Like your review and your blog background.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I clap my hands joyously. I'm so glad you liked this book! I am really most enormously fond of it. I read it in high school and have loved it ever since, across many years of rereads and getting older and smarter and a better reader of the book. So so good.

Kristen M. said...

Unlike Jenny, I read this in high school but don't remember a single thing about it. I really need to go back and revisit it. I've already hit a couple of those honors English reads that I got through but didn't absorb and every one has been well worth remembering. I'm sure this one will be as well.