Author: Alice Walker
Publisher: Harcourt Books (1982)
This is the tale of two sisters – one, Nettie, is a missionary in Africa and the other, Celie, a wife, living in the South. Through letters, they share their lives, their hopes, their dreams, and their desires through thirty years. Celie manages to shake the abuse with the love and affection of Shug Avery, her husband’s ex-squeeze, and finds herself with Shug’s support.
Nettie battles jealousies and death in Africa and somehow manages to come out okay enough to see her sister, Celie again.
The length of time they finally find each other again is thirty years but their experiences make them stronger people in the end. Albeit their unfortunate circumstances, they manage to see a brighter future with the people they encounter and be glad they have the opportunity to see another day.
The power of love, as shown in this book, most definitely conquers all in the most harrowing circumstances. Told in epistolary style, we see Celie’s vocabulary change throughout with some assistance from Shug and company and also her confidence grow with each passing entry.
Alice Walker is such an effective and powerful storyteller that I can only hope to write as well as she does. I look forward to reading more of her work!
Author: Rebecca Walker
Published by: Riverhead Books (2001)
Rebecca is the product of a biracial and bicoastal home. In her memoir, she recounts her sexual experiences, her identity crisis (is she white, Jewish, or black?), and everything in between.
What is missing in her memoir are the spaces in between – there weren’t enough instances where the reader (well, this reader anyway) was too involved in her story. There was an emotional distance prevalent in the tale. The writing wasn’t particularly salient, novel, or fresh. There were run on sentences that drove me crazy or places that were incomplete.
As a person of color myself, I was able to relate to her identity crisis (am I American or Dominican, or both?) but I wanted more. She was the daughter of a famous and well-renowned African-American author; why didn’t we hear more about that? I comprehended this book was about her and not her mother but Alice Walker was her mother, after all. She also recounted many friends from the different coasts she lived from year to year – which I could not keep track of for the life of me.
This book was lacking insight; I kept thinking, “Okay, so what?” Almost like an essay with a good thesis statement and not enough examples to prove her point. A decent portrait of her childhood but not enough to keep this reader vastly interested in her story.