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In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,269 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
In this, her first collection of nonfiction, Alice Walker speaks out as a
black woman, writer, mother, and feminist in thirty-six pieces ranging
from the personal to the political. Among the contents are essays about
other writers, accounts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the
antinuclear movement of the 1980s, and a vivid memoir of a scarring
childhood injury and
...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published May 17th 2004 by Mariner Books (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

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Cheryl
Alice Walker's life and writing legacy intrigues me. I stayed with this book longer than I normally would have, since some parts of me couldn't let it go. Walker always seems to speak to my experience, to my trajectory, and her words both console and exhort. Yet she's speaking to a larger audience, to America, to the world. For her career starts from Georgia to Mississippi, to California and Cuba, to sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Like Baldwin and Hughes, she was well-traveled, so when she spoke ...more
Meen
May 04, 2010 Meen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meen by: "Looking for Zora" was in Best American Essays of the 20th C.
Some of these feel a little dated now, but many of them are still so relevant, and that was actually kind of depressing. The ones from the '60s and '70s, talking about what were then still fairly new movements for racial and women's justice, in light of all the advances that the neo-cons and patriarchal and racist fundies made from Reagan one, and now with the ignorant racist teabaggers, ugh, just soooo depressing. The lesson I take from reading these now is that we can never, ever stop fighting ...more
Latasha
Sep 30, 2011 Latasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A book of essays by Ms. Walker, who is one of my favorite authors. My favorite ones are the ones with reference to Zora Neale Hurston. This if full of ideas that may usually be linked to feminism, but Walker instead coins the term "womanism" as she feels black women were left out of the feminist movement dominated by white women.
Torimac
May 05, 2012 Torimac rated it it was amazing
I do not remember anything about this book except one lesson I learned from it: Envisoning your future is the key to overcoming your obstacles. This one factor has been key to the nature of my existence changing from surviving to thriving. Thank you Ms. Alice Walker.
Emily  O
If you read my recent review of Alice Walker's famous novel The Color Purple, then you'll know that I think she is an excellent novelist. Well, dear readers, the good news is that she is also an incredible essayist. I would encourage teachers everywhere to use her essays in their classrooms as an example of the perfect personal essay (especially Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self). If you know me or if you've read my blog, you know that I don't usually read non-fiction. It usually bores m ...more
Tessyohnka
Jul 22, 2015 Tessyohnka rated it really liked it
To future readers of this collection of essays -- first read Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. I was very happy that I'd read Hurston's book first because so much of Walker's discourse is about Hurston and her book. We read this book for book club and my basic response was the realization that I learned so much from it -- I almost felt as if I should be taking notes -- and for me, that is an enjoyable feeling. So much info about black writers, the Civil Rights movement, and the ...more
Andrea
Jun 02, 2009 Andrea rated it it was amazing
I am starting to read more womanist literature and hope to get into some research eventually, so if anyone has any recommendations, I would gladly welcome them!
Elizabeth
Sep 24, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, mamalove, essays
This book made me cry. Poetry and essays on civil-rights, feminism, motherhood. Alice Walker rules.
Grouchymax
Sep 07, 2010 Grouchymax rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need to re-read this to assign stars (how presumptuous that appears in the face of this sort of book). This collection helped shape the better part of my teenage self, though I wonder if I found validation for my habits (say, "Everyday Use") a bit too conveniently. Regardless of my possible shortcomings in using the works to identify myself, I still feel grateful to Walker for getting her writings into the public's hands.
Lisa Sellers
May 27, 2013 Lisa Sellers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a huge book for me in my twenties - I love the short story about her looking for Zora Neale Hurston's grave and putting the tombstone on it herself - very inspiring and spoke to so much in my life - she lifts me up as a woman when I need a pick me up, cries with me when I am inconsolable and dance with joy as women do. Awesome book
Theresa
Aug 22, 2012 Theresa rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the best book of essays I've ever read, and one of the first. The title refers to one essay where the author visits the home of female white southern author Flannery O'Connor, now deceased, and discovers a familial connection. I still remember the peacocks on the property, though I've not read (and reread and reread) this book for years.
Iso Cambia
Mar 06, 2013 Iso Cambia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Iso by: Dr. Phillips
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
What is a womanist?

A black feminist/feminist of color; the opposite of girlish, frivolous; "usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered 'good' for one.... Responsible. In charge. Serious." (xi)

Womanist can also mean lesbian/bisexual women, a woman who "loves music. loves dance. loves the moon. loves the spirit. loves love and food and roundness. loves struggle. loves the folk. loves herself. regardless
...more
Cara Byrne
Sep 11, 2013 Cara Byrne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I fear that many people, including many women, do not know, in fact, what Woman is” (152).

Walker's collection of essays, starting with her first published article from 1967 on the Civil Rights movement to work she wrote in the 1980s about her process as a writer and as a reader of forgotten/overlooked African American's works (including Jean Toomer, Rebecca Jackson, and, of course, her "aunt" Zora Neale Hurston), is a heavy collection that offers a great critical insight into gender, sexuality
...more
Jordan Burney
Very powerful and says a lot about how men believe women to be but are wrong. She makes a point that when women are deprived of freedom that they go mad because there are constraints on women and women aren't allowed to step out of those gender stereotypical roles (in the time that she wrote this essay).
Raho
Dec 17, 2015 Raho rated it really liked it
Shelves:
The book "In search of our mothers' gardens" looks at many topics such as nuclear weapons, identity (womanhood, sexuality, and etc.), and the civil rights movement. This book gives insight into the relationship between men and women who touched her life .

By reading this book, I learned about the lives, challenges and experiences of African American Woman.
MarQuis L. Chappell
Nov 20, 2015 MarQuis L. Chappell rated it it was amazing
Such an astounding collection of Womanist prose! Walker shares the sorrows, regrets, and triumphs that made her the Womanist writer for which she is so greatly known. I could read this collection time and time again; it never gets old!
Stephanie Gustafson
Jun 24, 2014 Stephanie Gustafson rated it really liked it
I wouldn't have known about Zora Neale Hurston if I hadn't read this book, and I probably wouldn't have gone to graduate school and focused on women writers either. This book was key in my development as a feminist, scholar, and teacher.
Sarah
May 21, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
The essays in this collection of prose are heavy with the delicateness of feminine power, revealing the strength of and for black women artists. I am not a black woman, so it is very hard to relate to many of the issues Alice discusses in which her mother, grandmother, sisters, friends, etc. went through. While I am aware of the struggles and hardships of the African-American race, I will never fully understand them. I appreciate Alice's ability to present them as immediate works to the fullest, ...more
N.D.
Jan 28, 2016 N.D. rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent novel. I read it years ago and it left a huge emotional impact about female circumcision and the ramifications on a woman's mind and body.
Andrea Tyler
Some stories were really strong. Loved the ending. Walker clearly has a deep love for Hurston. I think it limited her interpretation of Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Lejla
May 06, 2015 Lejla rated it liked it
She writes beautifully and though a lot of these essays are from 60s and 70s are still very much relevant. I loved the essay about Zora Neale Hurston.
Aaron
Mar 22, 2015 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow! Really, wow! I had picked this out thinking it might have a few good things, but I was stunned as page after page was filled with insight, humor, heartbreak, and love. I don't believe this book was written with my demographic in mind, but I heartily recommend it. a wonderful work...I'm anxious to read more of Ms. Walker's writing.
Mariana
Oct 16, 2014 Mariana rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Black women have a certain power to make their own lives beautiful.
Felicia
Aug 15, 2014 Felicia rated it it was amazing
A great book of enduring strength and finding one's self in this world.
Candas
Jul 12, 2014 Candas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One my list of all-time favorites. Read this book every year for over a decade.
Mahjong_kid
Apr 13, 2014 Mahjong_kid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-deborah
This collection of essays made me wish that I knew Alice Walker. Her writing is not only inspiring, beautiful, and passionate, but also horizon-widening to those of us who know too little of the Civil Rights Movement, African-American writers, and the experience of being dark-skinned in a society that so highly prizes pale skin. I really respect the thoughtful way that she writes about the world and her personal experiences, tempering passion with the occasional acknowledgment that there may be ...more
Alyssa
Feb 22, 2009 Alyssa rated it liked it
Currently re-reading...
There are plenty of strong theories here, but I strongly prefer the bits where Walker shares personal rules and anecdotes: a call in the middle of the night; standing on Hurston's overgrown, snake-lurking grave; sharing lunch with her mother near Flannery O'Connor's home; attempting to document older women's lives in the rural south. The writing is funny and inviting within a serious context of critically analyzing race/gender/sex. On the negative side, there's some over-g
...more
VLT
Nov 02, 2014 VLT rated it it was amazing
One of the books that informed my thinking in the 1990s
Winter Sophia Rose
Sep 23, 2014 Winter Sophia Rose rated it it was amazing
You Will Find Yourself Re-Reading This Book To Nourish Your Spirit! I Do!^_~
Ayodele
to fall in love, read this
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Alice Walker, one of the United States’ preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessi ...more
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“Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.” 72 likes
“(a womanist)

3. Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.”
52 likes
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