““I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”– Alice Walker, “The Color Purple”
The Color Purple by Alice Walker is an award winning classic and I’m honestly surprised that I didn’t read it sooner. And now that I have read it, I’m both surprised and happily astonished that the movie based on this book in was actually made into such a major production in the mid-80s. Heck, I’m still surprised that my local homophobic anti-library group isn’t going on a crusade against this book. Then again, that would probably require actually reading the book, since this novel likely doesn’t appear on current lists of “problematic” books. I’m so glad I finally picked this one up. I think everyone should read it.
Rarely do I advocate an audiobook over a physical book, but in this case, I wholeheartedly do. Audible has two versions of this audiobook and of the two, the one read by the author is wholly superior. The non-standard dialect of this story can make it a little difficult to get into the physically written version of the story. If that’s true for you, then I recommend letting Alice Walker’s voice take you on this journey. Her reading is fluent, heartfelt, and powerful. It’s easily one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever experienced.
This story is told in letters. From a young age, Celie writes letters to God, explaining her life and her thoughts. Immediately we readers are swept up into her life, watching with abject horror as Celie’s father impregnates her twice, and then with even more horror as he sells her babies away from her. Her sister Nettie is all Celie has left in the world and she does everything she can to protect her younger sister from their father. But when her father marries her off, there’s nothing left that Celie can do for Nettie. Nettie runs away and Celie, heartbroken, accepts that she may never see her sister again. After years of not hearing from her, she assumes that Nettie must be dead.
We follow along through Nettie’s loveless marriage, as she raises her husband’s “rotten” children and endures his beatings. He pines relentlessly after another woman, Shug Avery. It isn’t until Celie’s stepson Harpo marries a strong and defiant woman named Sofia that Celie sees that women, that she, can have value and dignity.
The Color Purple is a story of love, perhaps not the romantic love we’ve all come to idealize or expect, but the love between friends, the love we should all have for ourselves, the love between sisters, and the love between mothers and their children. This is a story of love that endures despite all that would shatter it. This is also a story of healing as Celie comes to believe in her own worth and as she and the women around her learn to stand up for themselves and invest in their own happiness first and foremost.
I don’t want to say too much more because I loved the turns this book took and I am very glad I had no foreknowledge of them. I gasped audibly at a few points. I’m pretty sure I spoke to the book and told it “no” or “yaaaas queen!” a couple of times. I hope you can have that experience too. This book is uplifting and powerful and everything that I hope you can get out of your next read.
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”– Alice Walker, “The Color Purple”
- It’s so easy to fall into this story. The writing makes it easy to see and imagine everything going on.
- The audiobook read by the author is PHENOMENAL and helps if the non-standard diction and spelling makes this difficult to read physically.
- Twists that will take your breath away!
- Heartbreaking and uplifting by turns.
- Perfect opportunity to read this for Black History Month!
- The dialect may make this inaccessible for some readers.
“God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.”– Alice Walker, “The Color Purple”
- Black History Month!
- fans of realistic historical fiction that isn’t romanticized
- those wanting to read about strong female friendships
- those looking to read a story of the healing of family trauma
- people looking to branch out and read more books by black women
- those reading for the AP literature exam or wanting to experience an American classic
Books to Read if You Loved The Color Purple:
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- All Adults Here by Emma Straub
- Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford (my review here!)
Let’s Discuss! (Pick a question and drop a comment with your reply!)
- Celie addresses her letters to God. Are these a form of prayer? Why do you think she does this?
- The Color Purple has a lot to say about men and how society raises them into “grown children”. How did this sit with you?
- Which character speaks to you the most? Did they seem real or believable?