Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book #31: "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker

There are very few books that have made me cry. I can count them on one hand: The Time Traveler's Wife, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and The Book Thief. Now I have to add The Color Purple to the list, because this book slayed me.

This is the story of Celie and her sister, told through diary entries and letters to each other. Celie is a poor black girl who has always had a miserable life-- abused as a child, then married off to an abusive, violent husband after her father gets her pregnant and then gives away her children. Her sister, Nettie, moves in with them, but it doesn't last long- the husband tries to rape her and her sister must run away, so Celie loses the only thing in her life that she cares about. From then on she writes letters to her sister, detailing her miserable, lonely life, not even knowing whether her sister is alive or not.

Celie is an incredibly powerful narrator. She doesn't wallow in her sadness, but tells her story in a sadly detached way, detailing the miseries of her life while also hoping that there is something in the future for her. Her life slowly begins to change, once her husband's lover, Shug Avery, comes into her life. Shug is her complete opposite--powerful, independent, a force of nature who doesn't take shit from anyone and reduces Mister to nothing. At first Celie resents her, but slowly they become friends (and lovers) and Celie finally begins to love herself, and thus begins to shine.

It's this aspect of the book that got me. Celie starts out as miserable a character as I've ever read, but her transformation into her own person is incredibly touching and powerful. This is a book about women overcoming obstacles by relying on themselves and other women. There's an impressive cast of female characters, all vastly different but united in their shared desire to become more than their situations allow them to be.

I loved this book. Celie's voice is so strong and the story is touching and memorable. I was crying, both from sharing Celie's heartbreak, but also because of how much she manages to overcome and change. Read this. It's hard, and sometimes brutal to read sometimes, but it's also an incredibly good read.

No comments: