The Book That Made Me: Cry
Updated: Nov 29, 2020
Content warning: slavery, rape, intimate partner violence
**please do not read this post if it is not safe for you to do so - take care of yourself**
Alice Walker said, "There is no book more important to me than this one." This is also the case for me. Despite having a Pisces moon, I do not cry often. In fact, this was the first book that ever made me cry, and I haven't cried because of a book since.
I read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston around the time I was fifteen (should I have at that age, I don't know - but what's done is done). It broke me. I have a vivid memory of holding the book with shaking hands, numb fingers flipped the pages as tears swam in my eyes before plummeting down my face. I thought, "This cannot be. Her life cannot be this sad." And yet, it was.
Their Eyes Were Watching God doesn't feel like one story to me. It tells the story of the main character, Janie, of course, but it also tells many other stories. There are generations of trauma, including a grandmother who was a former-slave, and who was raped by her white owner. The child born of that villainy was also raped, and that was Janie's conception. Already, there is so much pain and grief before Janie is even born.
Janie has three marriages, all of which are abusive towards her whether physically, psychologically, or both. There are many call-backs to slavery, and the Black characters are sometimes even described as the 'master of the plantation' because they have large houses and many acres of land, and other characters are 'field hands' because they don't own property or large amounts of property and work for the 'master'.
The climax to the story is so heartbreaking and when I think about it, all I can remember are my trembling hands as I laid on the floor and thought to myself, "This isn't entirely fiction. This is someone's story - probably many someones."