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Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart Hardcover – April 20, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (April 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400061733
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400061730
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #923,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kate Talkingtree, the 57-year-old writer protagonist of Walker's latest concoction, is a lifelong seeker after enlightenment in the carnal, political and religious realms. After dreaming of a dry river, she decides to take this as a spiritual clue and makes two river-centric spiritual quests. In one, she embarks on an all-female white-water rafting trip down the Colorado River, coming home to her boyfriend, Yolo, a painter, with potentially startling news. She has decided that it is time to give up her sexual life and "enter another: the life of the virgin." Yolo, a feminist-friendly guy, takes this as well as he can. Soon Kate is off on another quest, this time in the Amazon rain forest, where she hopes to heal herself through trances induced by yag‚ administered by an Amazonian shaman, Armando Juarez. Yag‚, a hallucinogenic beverage, is also known as Grandmother to the native peoples. Indeed, it turns out that Kate's Grandmother archetype-representing the Earth, the ancestors and those violated by patriarchy and racism-has been calling out to her. Meanwhile, Yolo, on vacation in Hawaii, encounters a transsexual Polynesian shaman, or Mahu, who charges him with the mission of giving up addictive substances. A subplot involving corporations conspiring to patent yag‚ creates an unintended irony: isn't the mindset that exploits native wisdom for Western corporate greed similar to the mindset that exploits native rituals for the sake of Western spiritual "healing"? Luckily, followers of the goddess, and presumably Walker's readers, are not very keen on irony. Those who retain some affection for that hopelessly outdated and patriarchal trope are advised to bypass this inflated paean to the self.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Kate, a successful author fearful of aging and uncertain about continuing her relationship with Yolo, an artist, sets off on a journey of spiritual discovery. She has been profoundly unhappy for some time, dreaming of rivers, until she takes off for rivers--the Colorado and the Amazon. Among strangers, Kate is able to distance herself from her life and her relationship. Yolo, on his own separate journey, meets a former lover, a Hawaiian woman now overweight and weighed down with the recent loss of her son to a drug overdose and a sense that she--like her son--has lost her way. Kate finds growing intimacy among a group of disparate souls who unburden themselves of their pasts under the influence of yage, a South American medicinal herb. Kate finds that the herb allows her to reveal her innermost secrets and puts her in touch with the elders. Despite their frictions, Kate and Yolo have similar reawakenings about the land as mother, overcoming personal and ethnic oppression, and dismantling barriers between the sexes, the races, and young and old. Walker's dreamlike novel incorporates the political and spiritual consciousness and emotional style for which she is known and appreciated. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Alice Walker (b. 1944), one of the United States' preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessing the Secret of Joy. In her public life, Walker has worked to address problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty as an activist, teacher, and public intellectual.

Customer Reviews

Also, the book meandered too much, going from character to character without cohesion.
vegangrrl
Despite enjoying previous works by this author, I actually stayed awake last night contemplating whether this novel was in my top three worst novels of all time.
Dr. Skye Hughes
I was eagerly looking forward to reading this book, and I have to say, I was sorely disappointed.
Phoebe Cat

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By John K on April 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alice Walker has done it again. She has created a deeply rich world full of amazing characters that you hate to leave when the book is finished. Unlike most of her other works, this book has an extremely modern feel to it. It takes place in the present, and although it happens mostly in the jungles, it still feels like home.
Kate, the main character inspired by Walker's grandmother, channels a lot of Walkers feelings about the world today, and growing older. In the past, I've always felt the ancestors in Walker's work, but never much of herself. This book combines the two elements beautifully.
Do yourself a favor and big pick up this remarkable book, by one of the greatest voices of our time.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Skye Hughes on January 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Despite enjoying previous works by this author, I actually stayed awake last night contemplating whether this novel was in my top three worst novels of all time. Why? It is meandering, cliched, downright offensive in terms of stereotypes and the main characters Kate and Yolo generally bear no resemblance to real people. To compound the problem, the other characters who play supporting roles are hollow shells used merely to make didactic points about oppression and abuse. Being black is depicted in terms of such simplistic stereotypes as "being more tolerant than anyone else", being native American is "being in touch with the land" and being white has nothing positive to say for it at all.

For example, the author seems unaware that if Kate actually lived in Africa as I do, her sexuality would be enough to get her thrown into jail by virtually every African government of the day and would result in her being an outcast by local communities. That's the level of tolerance here in the Motherland.

My point ultimately is that this novel is ahistorical, ill-informed and in terms of simple entertainment value - particularly tedious if you have any interest in wit, irony, insightfulness or relevance. Don't waste your money.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on October 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When Alice Walker, the earthy literary wordsmith, releases a new book, I feel

an unmistakable pull that compels me to not only buy the book but to read it.

So, when NOW IS THE TIME TO OPEN YOUR HEART was released

I did as the unforeseen forces commanded, I bought and read the book

and I haven't regretted one solitary reflective moment since I did.

In NOW IS THE TIME TO OPEN YOUR HEART, we meet Kate, a successful author who

is pondering her life. She seems to have reached a crossroads of sorts where

she is trying to unearth the meaning of her existence. This search leads her

on a number of soul-searching journeys that ultimately leads Kate to a truer

understanding of herself and others around her.

In true Walker style, this novel is filled with wonderful symbolism and

experiences which draw the reader in and makes him/her a part of the main

character's quest. Walker's characters deal with a myriad of issues including

aging, sexuality, religion, abuse, and defining oneself. I found myself

disappointed when I read the final words. I wanted the journey to continue

and somehow, after reading NOW IS THE TIME TO OPEN YOUR HEART, I think Walker

wants it to as well.

Reviewed by Diane Marbury

of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tabitha Mashburn on May 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I fully enjoyed following the journeys of Kate and Yolo while they were figuring out their place in this world, as we all are. This is the first book I have read by Alice Walker, and she is to be commended for writing an inspiring novel. This is a wonderful book for those of us who are "soul searching." I would recommend it to anyone who is contemplating or starting out on their own spiritual journey.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Olivia K. on June 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I frequently found myself remembering how I felt years back reading Walker's "Temple of My Familiar" -- a compelling plotline that encourages the reader to learn about new places and peoples while questioning his/her own beliefs. That being said, "Open Your Heart" may be more treasured by readers who have already opened up to broad spiritual concepts (ex. the feminine divine) as opposed to traditional formalized & Western religion. For those readers, I would also highly recommend "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" by Sue Monk Kidd. As for me, I got "Open Your Heart" from the library & plan to buy my own copy to re-read again & again as I predict I will get more from it each time. I don't see Walker attempting to promote any "philosophy" except a willingness to accept those who find God outside of church or temple walls.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kittymom on June 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart works on several levels. Its a great book to take on vacation. It would be a great treasure on a cruise or retreat. It is quite digestible in a weekend, although I would encourage a somewhat slower reading so that the juiciness of Walker's prose and perspectives can seep through various levels of consciousness.

Obviously, Now Is The Time considers the personal and emotional journeys of Kate, a somewhat famous writer and her lover Yolo, a working artist. When their relationship reaches the usual inevitable point of where do we go next, both lovers, separately embark on planned and unplanned journeys of self-discovery. The two people who return from a trip to Hawaii and a vision questing experience in a tropical rainforest have interesting souvenirs. While Kate travels the farthest in terms of distance, like Yolo, what she really discovers is what she shares with others.

Notably, Kate and Yolo, are members of the civil rights generation and have survived the sexual revolution and womens' liberation and all of the other significant social and political signifiers of the past fifty years. Walker uses these and other characters to suggest that after the revolution, after the foolishness and foibles of youth, the real work of self-mastery is the one true human vocation.

I found the dual storyline a bit distracting. Still it is one of Walker's stronger and more compelling works. Its well worth reading, sharing with a friend or two and discussing at length.
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