Book Review: Their Eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God

As a teenager, Janie’s grandmother married her off as quickly as possible to an old man with his prospects in his sixty acres. When she’s tired of being stifled by him, she runs away with a man she found on the horizon, Jody. When Jody claims Eatonville and becomes the mayor, he takes her voice and covers her hair. Finally, she meets Tea Cake after Jody’s death, and she realizes what it means to be in love.

Alright, I’ll admit it. I was completely bored in the beginning of this book. And I hated the dialect. And I didn’t really have any feelings toward Janie because to me, she seemed very papery.

I can’t tell you exactly where the transition happened or why, but somewhere toward the middle I realized that I actually really enjoyed reading this book.

First of all, after Janie’s initial marriage and into her second one with Jody, I understood the weight of her voice and the toll it took on her to muffle it. And I started to appreciate how Hurston set up the novel and characterized Janie. It was subtle. She wasn’t papery. She was smart.

One of the major topics Hurston explores is the power of language, and she shows this through Janie’s marriages and attitudes. She hardly talks at all while married to Jody, showing her position as less than him, while with Tea Cake, they have real conversations and her dialogue is scattered throughout the end of the novel. She uses the form of the novel, not giving Janie much dialogue to greatly increasing it, to show her transition from less than her husband to equal with him. By doing this, I mistook her silence for two dimensional, but really it means so much more because language and the lack thereof shows the inequality between genders and Janie’s strategies in her marriage.

It is written pretty much completely in dialect, but I quickly got used to it. I also think the dialect definitely adds to the story, making it more real and emphasizing her themes on the importance of language.

Otherwise, I felt like there was probably a lot of stuff in the book that I missed. Plot wise, it picked up when Jody got sick. There is a bit of a twist with Tea Cake that I wasn’t expecting, but I also neglected to read the back and am a cynic, so it probably wouldn’t be surprising to anyone else.

I really did enjoy the book, and I liked how it didn’t seem like a race novel. Sure, there was a subtheme concerning racism and how it can affect anyone, black or white, but it didn’t overtake the novel. The novel is a classic because of its themes on language and equality, not because it’s only directed toward one audience.

I definitely recommend it as an important classic that isn’t that difficult to read.

4 Stars

“She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her.”

Mini Review: And Then There were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None

And Then There were None, also known as 10 Little Indians, is a classic mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It’s my first Christie novel, and probably one of my first higher-level mysteries in general, excluding the infinite adventures of the Boxcar Children or Nancy Drew.

Ten strangers are invited by a mysterious host to an island. None of them have anything in common except for a past they don’t want shoveled up again. Each has been marked with murder in some way, and before the weekend is out, they will each succumb to a murderer themselves.

It’s hard not to like this book. It’s a classic murder mystery. It’s one of those books everyone has read and most everyone loves. The concept is simple, the mystery is complex, and the characters are all suspects. This book is the archetype for the mystery genre.

I enjoyed by time reading it. I can’t say that I was completely in love, though. I was a little frustrated by how slowly they figured some things out, and it did begin to get repetitive after a while. None of the characters are remotely likeable, and the back of the book completely gave away the ending. (Spoiler Alert: they all die).

I also think, because of the simple mystery concept, that it wasn’t my usual niche. Which is good and bad. It’s good because it pushes me out of my comfort zone. It’s bad because I didn’t particularly like it that much. The novel felt too plot based to me and seemed unrealistic. I know it’s not supposed to be realistic, but it’s hard for me to grasp unrealistic novels that aren’t fantasy or science fiction.

Otherwise, I enjoyed trying to find out who the culprit was and guessing everyone’s past and their deaths. I do think it’s a staple book, especially for people into mysteries.

3.5 Stars

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all the books on our to-read lists. I actually don’t have a lot of timely books this season.

  1. Winger by Andrew Smith (I want to reread this for the sequel) Winger (Winger, #1)
  2. Stand-Off by Andrew SmithStand-Off (Winger, #2)
  3. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
    The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God
  5. More Happy than Not by Adam SilveraMore Happy Than Not
  6. The Diviners by Libba Bray diviners
  7. Wicked by Gregory MaguireWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1)
  8. Hello, I Love You by Katie StoutHello, I Love You
  9. Falling into Place by Amy Zhang Falling into Place
  10. Red Queen by Victoria AveyardRed Queen (Red Queen, #1)