5 Solid Stars
★ ★ ★ ★ ★/ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a phenomenal, unprecedented novel that showcases the best of black authors during the Harlem Renaissance. The novel follows Janie – a beautiful girl known for her luxuriously long hair and light brown skin – who has never had control of her life. Her whole life she’s been someone’s daughter, granddaughter or wife, but never the thing she craves most; the freedom to be her own woman. Can she overcome the “need” for a woman to not be her own, in a time period that women were only as good as their connection to another.
Reading this novel was not an easy task for me. I procrastinated until I finally buckled down, put on my big girl boxers and conquered this feat. Now, don’t get me wrong I loved this novel it was interesting, enthralling and just so real. However, novels like this are hard for me to read because I just, foolishly, believed it was going to be about slavery – and before the people who actually enjoy slavery books jump on my back just understand some of us are still sensitive to the subject, but nevertheless I was misguided in the predetermined theme I had for this novel.
After reading the first three chapters I was completely hooked to the novel. Janie as a character was so strong but naïve and also so easy to feel empathy for. You’ll root for her from beginning until the very end, which was executed very well. But one problem some people may have is with the writing. I actually found it reasonably easy after I got passed the first chapter, but it may be difficult because of its use of old, uneducated southern twang. If you can read Shakespeare you can read this.
- Janie – Janie has to be one of my absolute favorite heroines. She was a woman born before her time, and I like to believe if she were a) real and b) born now she’d literally thrive. Her honesty and innocence were just as prominent and potent as her strength and endurance in all the situations she found herself in.
- Vernacular – I applaud any author that can accurately capture a settings language, so here it goes:
- Growth/progression – I felt like I got to see Janie grow up while reading this novel; pre-sexual awareness and post-sexual awareness was an extremely interesting thing to behold and witness her life unfolding.
- Racism – I loved the fact that this book was written during a time period that racism and segregation was strong, however the book wasn’t really about it, although it was mentioned. An African-American novel that can be full and complete without race issues being a filler for page length is an A+ for me.
- Feminism – This was a novel about feminism, and to be even more specific, Black women and feminism. It placed a literary spotlight on the role of black, women during this seldom acknowledged time. Janie was the rare creation born of both tradition and innovation and independence.
- POV – I’m not a huge fan of third-person omniscent point of views because they always seem somehow cold and detached, but then again I guess that’s the point.
- Tea Cake – His character was just off, and I personally didn’t care for him but mayhap it’s just me.
Basically, just buy it and immerse yourself into the greatness of Ms. Hurston.