Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book Review: The Color Purple

African-American History Month

February 1st marks the start of African-American history month. In honor of this month I've been reading books by African-American authors (or about African-Americans throughout history) over the course of the last several months. Prior to reading these books, I had very little experience with African-American literature though I've had several on my to-read list for years. There are so many on my list that it was tough to determine where to begin. To kick off my reading, I decided to start with one of the most regonizable titles, a book which also sits on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, and also famously made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey. So, here's my review of The Color Purple.

By Alice Walker

“...have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.” 

The Color Purple is probably a book that needs no introduction. Maybe you haven't read it, but more than likely you've heard of it. The Color Purple is a classic in American literature, a modern classic. I decided this would be a good starting point for an introduction into African-American literature. There's many books about African-American history, such as The Help or The Secret Life of Bees, but I wanted to make sure that for African-American History Month I was actually reading books by African-American authors. Reading a book by a white person about black people just seemed backwards.

I absolutely loved The Color People. The book explored all the topics I enjoy: race, religion, gender, and class. I also loved that part of the book was based in Africa and African history was woven throughout Nettie's letters to Celie. Africa is a country whose history I've always had a heavy interest in so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Africa plays a role in the book. I expected it to just be based in the American South and just be comprised of it's issues.

As a feminist the topics of gender and being a woman were another subject that grabbed my attention in the book. Sexual abuse and domestic violence play a large role in the book. However, I liked how men weren't portrayed as all bad. For example, Nettie's husband was a very loving and supportive man. Also, we saw how Mister had reformed himself and actually began enjoying feminine hobbies. 

The Color Purple tells a beautiful story. I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars and I hope to eventually have the time to pick up more books by Alice Walker.

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