The Color Purple - Book Review

Monday, April 07, 2014

Even though I love YA fiction and can read like 20 in a week - the easier words and plots can get a bit redundant so every once in a while I like to shock my brain with something a bit more complex.

I'm always trying to read the classics and books that are still relevant throughout the years. This time, during my adult reading I chose The Color Purple.

I never had to read this book in school and was honestly never interested in it until I saw the episode of American Masters about the author, Alice Walker. She seemed to be an almost other-worldly person: kind, introspective, and seemingly transcendent of many societal conventions in the name of love and peace.

The Color Purple is a book of letters Celie writes to God about her life. To say that Celie's life was unfortunate would be an understatement. The situations she had to endure and then the ones she gets shoved into were horrendous - it's no wonder that Celie is timid, quiet, and obedient. Raped by her father, forced into marriage by a man who hits her, and then forced to raise his children who do not respect her at all - Celie tries her hardest to survive everyday. Her life turns around when she meets her husband's mistress, Shug Avery. She bonds with Shug who opens up her mind and teaches her how to question and think for herself. From there Celie continues to meet more women who question their husbands and society's view of them. Slowly, finally recieving letters from her long-lost sister and continuing to be true to herself Celie learns how to be independent, how to love, and how to live a happy life.

At first the book was hard to get into because of the use of Southern vernacular but then you get into the groove of reading it and it becomes engrossing almost immediately. Despite having to put the book down a few times because of the shocking abuse that happens to Celie and Walker's decision to not sugar coat it; I read this book in a short amount of time. It discusses all kinds of family dynamics and how women, especially women of color were treated. The characters are multi-dimensional and the women are strong.

I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. I love the way it was written as an epistolary novel.
And I loved the diverse, strong women in it. But I especially love the way that Walker describes faith and God within the book and that is in ones love for life: the beauty within it and the beauty within others.

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