"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Book Reports: Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Last Summer (of you and me)

Jamie asked about two of the books I've recently read. And since Jamie is one of my loyal blog readers, I figured the answer to her question deserved a blog post of its very own. Not to mention that unlike MySpace, Blogger doesn't allow me to just comment back to her. So I'm torn, do I answer her question in the comment thread where she asked it... even though it was about fish and she may never check back? Or do I answer it in her most recent post? Is there some sort of Blogger etiquette that tells me what to do?

I've always wanted to read this book. I read some short stories by Zora Neale Hurston in a Women's Lit. class at BYU and I really enjoyed them.

I enjoyed learning more about Hurston. How she was known for wearing hats. How she died in poverty virtually unknown and her books were revived by Alice Walker after her death. How she wasn't really well known until the 60s/70s when feminist and culturally diverse literature was on the rise. Her writing was politically conservative and thus did not go along with other African American literature (ie: Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison) of her time. Many readers objected to her representation of African American dialect (which were influenced by her academic researches as a folklorist).

The book is basically about a girl, Janie, growing into a woman. It's sort of a coming of age story. She is raised by her grandmother, a former slave, who wants her married off well and taken care of, so she marries her off at 17. But Janie wants love. So we follow her through her life, her relationships with men, until she discovers herself.

It's hard to get into at first. The dialect is difficult. I found myself sort of saying the words aloud in my head to make sure I knew what I was reading. But you get used to it. It's worth it to read this book. And do a little research on Hurston, it makes the book that much more interesting.

The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

Ann Brashares is the same woman who wrote The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series for teens. The first book was made into a movie. She became quite famous. I enjoyed these books.
The Last Summer (of You and Me) is her first book written for adults (even though I know a lot of adults who read the Traveling Pants books). The biggest difference in these books is that there is a whole lot more sex in The Last Summer. I liked how she handled sex in her teen books. It wasn't just consequence free. The girls had to deal with stuff. Of course I live in my own little bubble and I would liked to have seen a teen book where no one had sex (which is becoming harder and harder to come by these days), but I think Brashares handled it very honestly with no sugar coating for the most part.

As for this new book, the characters are older, three childhood friends (two of whom are sisters, the other their rich summer island, male neighbor) whose lives really only intermingle while at their family's summer houses on an island. When we meet them they are in the early to mid twenties and haven't been all together in a few years. Of course, you can tell from the start that this is going to turn into a love triangle. And it does, in a way. How else would there be too much sex, right? There has to be some sort of love interest happening.

I enjoyed this book. I don't think the sex was too detailed. It was just happening a lot. I loved the story, the emotion, the relationships that these three people had. I believe it made me cry. Although that isn't really saying much since I'm kind of a sap.


wendys said...

I read "Their eyes were watching God" a few years ago and it was a difficult read but worthwhile. I will have to see if I like "the last summer"

Jamie said...

Thanks for the book reports. That was interesting info about "Their Eyes Were Watching God" It's been collecting dust on our bookshelves for a couple of years so maybe I'll finally read it. I was hoping that the last summer of you and me was a continuation of the traveling pants books, but maybe I'll still give it a whirl.

Jamie said...

That baby over there in the bubble thing is getting bigger...

A Random Stranger said...

Every book makes you cry. You cried while you were reading the last Harry Potter book, so while I was reading it I kept thinking, "I wonder when I'm going to get to the sad part that made my wife cry." There WAS no sad part.

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