Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

37415Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.

What it’s about: After two loveless marriages, Janie finally awakens to love, happiness and self-realization when she meets Tea Cake and elopes with him to the Florida Everglades.

Why I liked it: It too me a long time to get to this book, and was I missing out. Hurston is such a terrific writer; she blows pretty much everyone else I’ve been reading lately out of the water. Her writing is lush, sensual, evocative and much sexier than Fifty Shades of Gray or whatever the kids are reading nowadays. She writes about the natural world and how we as human beings are a part of it, not separate from it or above it, as we like to pretend, that we are subject to overwhelming natural forces like sex and hurricanes, and we should allow ourselves to be carried along by them. In so doing, we open ourselves up to becoming fully ourselves, completely engaged with life and all its joys and tragedies. This book has so many truths to offer that it requires multiple rereadings, and I look forward to the next time I pick it up and let it enchant me.

Who might like it: Readers of African American, Southern and/or feminist literature who have neglected Hurston, as I did; she is one of our most overlooked writers. Don’t let the dialect dissuade you–it is absolutely poetic, especially when read aloud.

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