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Showing 1-10 of 856 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,422 reviews
VINE VOICEon January 30, 2017
I tried and failed several times to read this book, a paperback copy that I picked up at a thrift store several years ago. Finally, my senior in high school son was given it as an assignment. I explained that I'd tried to read it as recently as November (two months ago) and failed BUT I wanted to hear what he thought about the book. Then I read the group assignment he and his friends wrote, which was about the use of water as a certain type of symbolism (I won't be more specific so as not to provide spoilers). At that time, I learned the plot of the book, including several important plot spoilers. Even so, I was determined to "get through it" and bought the audio book, performed by Ruby Dee. It was absolutely mesmerizing. It was only about six hours long, which was slower reading that I normally do (I followed along with the Kindle version, because we owned that too) but was always trying to get back to the book when distracted by life. I found the performance to be riveting. I could actually understand what was happening in the story. I found the writing amazing (this makes me want to "read" something else of hers, preferably performed by Ruby Dee). I loved the use of personification. I loved the descriptions. I loved many things about it. In the end, I realized that sometimes you need to look at (or listen to) things in a different way. By listening to this rather than trying to read it, I was able to fully appreciate a brilliant book. Would I recommend the book itself to a friend? No. But I'd highly recommend the audio version. Also excellent in the audio performance category: Katherine Kellgren and Victor Garber.
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on May 29, 2016
I read this because John Green is doing a book club sort of thing on youtube this summer. I didn't know what to expect with the opening chapter, but I fell in love so fast. And the climax was suspenseful, then heart wrenching before she brings the story to a close. But what caught me off guard most of all were those places where her writing fell into beautiful poetry that made you want to reread each word and really meditate on what she was saying. I understand now why Alice Walker called this a very important book.
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on May 8, 2017
My daughter read this for her AP English class and I thought I should read this classic piece of literature as I had never had the opportunity. So I bought it and could not put it down. Months later, I am still thinking about this book, envisioning the cast of characters and events in the novel. Zora Neale Hurston was such a beautiful storyteller. I can see why this book is a classic piece of literature and in my mind, it stand heads above many of the other pieces of literature of have read from this period. I cannot recommend it enough to people.

Hurston opens up a space for us to envision life shortly after Emancipation - where African Americans were freed but not free. She illuminates an early Black community (true) and one of the strong women (fictional) in that community. The trials and tribulations of the many characters and the barriers they encountered - the moments of joy, happiness, and pain all grip the reader and help the reader to not only imagine but to feel what it might have felt like to live during this time in the community with the people. A masterful work.
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on October 24, 2015
It's easy to see why 'Their eyes were watching God is considered a literary classic. Hurston's nearly-forgotten story does an excellent job of blending African-American and feminist themes, and truly captures the emotional journey towards self-realization.

The story concerns Janie, a black woman raised by her former slave grandmother. Wanting her to be happy and not used, her grandmother arranges a marriage for Janie at a young age. But Janie rejects the marriage that brings her no happiness, and runs off to an all-black town in Florida. The characters she meets are very well drawn, and the emotion truly shines through.

Now one thing you have to know is that the story uses a lot of dialect writing rather than standard spelling. If this annoys you, you're probably not going to enjoy the book. And I have to say, the final events of the book rely on some truly terrible decision making. At the end though, this didn't ruin the book for me, and I can recommend it to readers of any age.
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on May 28, 2015
This is truly a classic and teachable from so many direction you will not be able to stand it. You can run a class for nearly a month discussing the levels, layers, textures, and nuances to the characters and their intentions. There are modes of language, characterization, dialect, motivation, conflict, and desire that can go on forever in a classroom or book club discussion. I fell in love with the woman with so much pain from men, but always willing to feel love. You will be entangled in the world of these people so quickly you will not believe it. I suggest you download the audible version so you can take in the dynamics of Ruby Dee reading Hurston's beautiful language.
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on January 11, 2017
Written in 1937, this is not just a story, it is a cultural icon that preserves African-American history from deep within its collective psyche. It preserves its both adopted and created speech and non-spoken communication, its humor and pathos, cultural values, its struggles and loyalties--male, female, interracial and intra-racial, and also includes highly academic evaluations in the form of two introductions that very specifically qualify the work's value. It was also fun to read.
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on February 21, 2015
This book truly deserves a place among the great books in American literature. It is well written in wonderfully rich, lyrical prose with frequent quotable epigrammatic insights into our lives. ("There are years that ask questions and years that answer.") It is the fictional biography of a poor black woman written by a brilliant, black, female writer which speaks so universally to our individual human needs that it appeals even to an old white male like me! It is a book about life and about people which just happens to have a poor, black, female lead character.

The language of the book may be off putting to some because Hurston attempts to graphically reproduce a rural Floridian dialect just after the turn of the 20th century. At first it helps to read aloud --even while alone, but it isn't too difficult to master and soon becomes part of the book's character and charm. It would be a fun book to read aloud with others as part of a book club or drama exercise. Despite her dialectical storytelling, her prose are brilliant and lyrical, and her use of imagery and metaphor is as ingenious as any of Garcia-Marquez' best stuff. She has a similar ability to sum up a whole character in a few well chosen images. E.g. her description of mayor Joe Starks, "He can’t help bein’ sorta bossy. Some folks needs thrones, and ruling- chairs and crowns tuh make they influence felt. He don’t. He’s got uh throne in de seat of his pants.” A whole character summed up in one brilliant image! You feel you know the man and could predict his behavior based on this one word picture!

This story is wonderful and wonderfully told from start to finish. Hurston's characters are rich and human and Janie, the main character, is well developed and grows from each of her significant relationships over the course of her life. The storyline serves to develop the characters who exist to show what it is to be human; to love, to lose, to feel and to be both crushed and exhilarated by simply living our lives as they come rushing at us.
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on July 29, 2016
A book club recommendation, I am very pleased to find Zora Hurston back in print and that this book sparked the discussion about who black women are in their complexity and their search for identity and actualization. I particularly liked the conversations of the men on the porch as I felt drawn into the fold and wondered where it was going and who would "win". And one cannot forget Janie's emerging consciousness into womanhood under the flowering pear tree.
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on August 20, 2015
Janie Crawford grew up in Eatonville, Florida with no Mother or Father. She was the product of a rape and her Mother was nowhere to be found after she was born so she was raised by her grandmother. After her grandmother witnessed Janie's first kiss, she decided it was time for her to marry. Because her grandmother was ailing and no in good health, she persuaded Janie to marry a guy in her Church that had 60 acres of land and a home because she wanted Janie to be well taken care of in the event of her death. Janie realized soon after that marriage doesn't "make" you happy and that you can't make yourself love someone no matter what they do or provide for you. She ran off and married a second time to a rich and ambitious guy who ended up being the Mayor of the town they settled in. He wanted a trophy wife that didn't speak her own mind, that submitted to him, and didn't want to be associated with "common" people. She lost herself in this marriage and after his death she was free for the first time in life. She relished her freedom and turned down many a suitor that is until she met Teacake. Teacake helped her rediscover herself and rediscover life. They married and moved off. Teacake never took advantage of her money and treated her like the Queen she was. At the end of the book, a big Hurricane comes and Teacake and Janie are trying to escape.....Teacake gets bitten by a rabid dog trying to save Janie's life and 4 weeks later she ends up on trial for Murder after a turn of events. This book is the tale of one woman's search for love and peace. Please read this book. This was my second time reading it...at 32 I appreciate it much more than I did when I read it the first time in college. A true Masterpiece!!!!
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on April 17, 2016
I first read this book in my high school English class. I reread it for a college literature class. Now, as a high school English teacher myself, I love teaching this book to my students. Teens can relate to the protagonist, Janie, as she tries to find independence and personal power while still pursuing romantic relationships. They tend to have strong feelings about her interactions with her various lovers, and it has opened the door for thoughtful discussions of racial and gender inequality (and the ways that it permeates society), healthy vs. abusive relationships, and self-interest vs. the expectations of a community. There are a few references to violence and sexual encounters, but these are done in passing and are not explicit or graphic in any way. Usually, the violent or sexual event is hinted at beforehand and then skipped over by the narrator, or mentioned after the fact in passing. This is age-appropriate for upper-level high school students (my students are 11th grade, ages 16-18). The prose is beautifully constructed, and Hurston makes use of southern black dialect (which can pose a challenge for students but is often helped by reading out loud). The narration alternates between an omniscient third person narrator and Janie herself.
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