I came across Their Eyes Were Watching God by a rather circuitous route. My sister had to read it for some class or another in college. When she was getting rid of a bunch of things before she got married, she set aside the books she had but didn’t want anymore and told me to take what I wanted. I knew Zora Neale Hurston’s book was a classic so, being the book lover that I am, I took it.
I’ve started it a few times in the last year but never got further than the first ten pages or so. I think, maybe, I never wanted to tackle the intricate dialogue that is so essential to the story. It’s daunting to open a book and realize that, even though it’s written in English, you’ll have to pay close attention and almost learn a new language. At first glance, it isn’t a book that you’d read for relatively mindless pleasure.
I’m nothing if not stubborn, though, so I tried it again. My stubborness paid off.
The story of Janie and Tea Cake is one of the most profound love stories I’ve ever read.
The language, the way they spoke in the Deep South in the first part of the 20th century, is essential to the story. Janie and Tea Cake wouldn’t be who they are without it and, happily, after the first few pages, it gets very easy to read.
More than that, much more than that, I wanted nothing more than for Janie to find happiness. In her life, it was elusive to put it mildly, but she found it in Tea Cake. I was so happy for her and I think that’s really the sign of a good book, getting emotional for the characters in story. I couldn’t stop reading because I wanted her to be okay, to be happy, to be loved.
My heart shattered for her in the end, but then it fixed itself because she fixed herself. She’d found all that she was looking for and, even in the darkest moments, she knew that because she’d had that, she’d be okay.
I’m so glad I gave the book one more try and I will read it again one day.
Five stars out of five from me.