Their Eyes Were Watching God Monday, Mar 14 2011 

Hi Readers,

I bring you a book review! It is not on the 2011 Reading List, but I read it for my Women’s Literature class, and I really like it. To be honest, I consider it one of those timeless pieces that everyone should read at least once in their life time.

“Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.” (Pg. 1)

Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, is the story of Janie Crawford. It explores her sexual identity from the age of 16 to when she is a little over 40 years old, and her ever changing views of herself and the world.

As a young woman, Janie has a very brief involvement with with and young man named Johnny Taylor. Janie’s grandmother strongly dislikes Johnny and thus feels the need to immediately separate the two almost-lovers upon seeing them kissing. It is at this time that she orchestrates a marriage between Janie and Logan Killicks. Logan is a great deal older than Janie and quite obviously financially secure—but extremely emotionally insecure. He is never capable of emotionally meeting her needs. He could give her everything except for that. They are married for a short time when she meeting Joe Starks. She runs off with him, and gets married. However, things were not very good. He forces her into a kind of oppression–makes her close herself off to attention from others, and hides her beauty. When Joe passes away, she meets Tea Cake. He is much younger than Janie and yet their relationship seems to “work.” Depending on your perspective, the relationship might be wonderful… for me, it is not good. Anyway…

I genuinely loved this book. I recommend to anyone and everyone. I read reviews by people that complained about the language and “improper english”–and I wonder if they remember that this book takes places in the South? It is an authentic dialect. The book is about a sexual awakening as well as a lesson in self-knowledge is an overall aspect–so keep that in mind; it is not tasteless and perverted; it is true to life and human nature.

The Saturday Review says, “The classic story of light-skinned Janie Crawford’s evolving selfhood through three marriages. A novel that ‘…belongs in the same category with that of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway.'”

 I’m giving Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, a 5out 5. Absolutely phenomenal.

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Imperfect Birds Saturday, Aug 14 2010 

 “The last time Elizabeth and Rosie had gone on a hike together, Elizabeth had brought up there friends-with-benefits business, not for the first time.” (Pg. 36)

I hate saying this. I never, ever like saying I do not like a book–again with that thing called propriety. I did not like Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott. Click here to view Barnes and Noble’s synopsis. Here is how much I disliked it–I made it to Chapter 2, and could not continue. I had to fight to get through Chapter 1.

To be quite honest, this novel hit way close to home. Substance abuse, fear of losing a child, paying too much attention, not paying enough attention… an assortment of things. She addressed many issues that occur within many families today. Maybe some parents might find this book helpful to some extent in learning how to cope with whatever may or may not be going on.

However, that is not why I did not like it. The subject matter was interesting and very real. I just could not get over her writing style. I liked Bird by Bird, which was a novel for beginning writers–but they are very different styles of writing. I became bored very quickly, sadly. In that, I give Imperfect Birds a 2/2.5 out of 5. Click here for a review from the Washington Post.

Island Beneath the Sea Monday, Aug 2 2010 

“Rhythm is born on that island beneath the sea; it shakes the earth, it cuts through me like a lightning bolt and rises toward the sky, carrying with it my sorrows so that Papa Bondye can chew them, swallow them, and leave me clean and happy” (Allende 1).

Initially apprehensive about reading Isabel Allende’s most recent novel, Island Beneath the Sea, this feeling has since changed. Since I find any or all of the books I’ve chosen to read at Barnes and Noble.com, it is only obvious that I am going to read the summaries to get a final feel–decisions, decisions. This title did not really need its summary to have me pulled in. Island Beneath the Sea. Intriguing. Captivating.

This novel is rich with detail and imagery. Haiti. New Orleans. While her peers  might not think highly of Allende, I can without a second thought say, she has a gift for imagery and tones that might otherwise be lost. This novel takes patience and an open mind–the beginning starts slowly–but once it starts to rev up–the story goes. Zarite’s life pulls the reader in–you are able to connect–and by that point, I was turning pages later and later into the evening than I had anticipated. I absolutely love the way Allende incorporates historical people and events into the novel–it is beautiful. It doesn’t read like a history book–but she makes an offhand comment about the event or person and continues on with the life that inspired the book–Zarite.

There are so many conflicts and themes inside this novel that I would love to delve deeper into. It involves most  conflicts: man vs. self, man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. supernatural, and man vs. nature. In this case it would be woman vs. etc. And some amazing themes that I loved involved society and its impact upon gender roles within a time period. Freedom surrounding not only race and gender, but from fear and inhibitions. My favorite would be the conflict between love and family–more or less, the biases regarding how interconnected love is with family and the kind of  love that is deemed acceptable. Family in this sense is very loose because I consider Zarite to be a part of the Valmorain family.There are so, so, so many themes within this novel. All of these themes and conflicts just make the emotion in the novel tremble with brutal vulnerability.

Read NPR.org’s Review of Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea here.

This has quite possibly, so far, been the most provocative read I’ve had in sometime. I would not mind having this novel be a part of a novel course at my college. That would actually be fantastic! Zarite’s story is unforgettable and beautiful as it is horrific. I give Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea a 5 out of 5. Absolutely tantalizing.