The Color Purple, and I found it surprisingly enjoyable. Of course, after reading her book of essays, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens, I was expecting it to be good. I just wasn't expecting it to be good in the way that it was. When I read the blurb on the back and saw that it dealt with sexual assault, abuse, and poverty, I was prepared for a dark and depressing book like Toni Morrison's Beloved, which is difficult but well worth the effort. What I got was a book that was just as meaningful as Beloved, but perfectly accessible and enjoyable to read.
I think what made the book so good was the writing style and the main character. The writing was kept light and genuine. It used dialect, but it was never hard to understand like some books that use dialect can be. The reading was always easy and never a chore. I finished the book in less than two days. But the easy reading wasn't because the book was light in subject matter, but rather because the book was so well written that reading it was simply a pleasure.
I also think the easiness of the reading came from the main character, Celie. She was just so likeable that I honestly wanted to read about her. She was genuine, sweet, strong, and honest, even when she made mistakes. Even when she was still submissive to her abusive husband, I loved her, felt for her, and thought she was incredibly strong. She had a way of getting through things and living that I found really admirable. Despite all the bad things that happened to her, she still had room in her heart to love, and to love completely and truly at that. Celie is a great character, and Walker did a great job of showing how an uneducated poor black woman is absolutely a complete and interesting person with a compelling story and a rich inner life.
After hearing so many stories about this book being banned from schools for various things from sexual content to lesbian themes, I was pleasantly surprised at how simple, accessible, and hopeful this book was. I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want teens to read it. I sure wish I had read it back then. I really enjoyed The Color Purple, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an easy read that isn't fluffy or forgettable.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Accessible writing, excellent characterization, meaningful subject matter. Highly recommended.