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Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965–2000

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From National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alice Walker and edited by critic and writer Valerie Boyd, comes an unprecedented compilation of Walker’s fifty years of journals drawing an intimate portrait of her development over five decades as an artist, human rights and women’s activist, and intellectual.

For the first time, the edited journals of Alice Walker are gathered together to reflect the complex, passionate, talented, and acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner of The Color Purple. She intimately explores her thoughts and feelings as a woman, a writer, an African-American, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a sister, a friend, a citizen of the world.

In an unvarnished and singular voice, she explores an astonishing array of marching in Mississippi with other foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr.; her marriage to a Jewish lawyer, defying laws that barred interracial marriage in the 1960s South; an early miscarriage; writing her first novel; the trials and triumphs of the Women’s Movement; erotic encounters and enduring relationships; the ancestral visits that led her to write The Color Purple ; winning the Pulitzer Prize; being admired and maligned, sometimes in equal measure, for her work and her activism; and burying her mother. A powerful blend of Walker’s personal life with political events, this revealing collection offers rare insight into a literary legend.

560 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2020

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About the author

Alice Walker

305 books6,014 followers
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 Possessing the Secret of Joy. In her public life, Walker has worked to address problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty as an activist, teacher, and public intellectual.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews
Profile Image for Kevin.
497 reviews83 followers
November 17, 2021
“How incredible in some ways it is to thirst for pen and paper, to need them, as if they were water.”

There is a point in the life arc of a prolific and talented author when the writer himself/herself becomes the story. Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, and James Baldwin come to mind. Studies are made on their technique. Courses are taught on their material. Biographies (authorized and unauthorized) are written on their lives. And, if the author kept such things, journals and diaries are published.

“People have called me brave so often that I almost believe it - if fear is brave I am brave.”

There is an intimacy in journals, if they’re written openly and honestly, that one does not find in biographies. This is not Alice Walker recounting and reflecting on things that happened fifty years ago. This is Alice Walker at that particular moment in time. A snapshot, if you will, of a fascinating life in progress.

The Alice Walker of the 1960s had convictions…

“…the South will rise again—but as a nation of men and not a lot of finky little Confederate flagwavers who don’t know Sherman from Grant.”

The Alice Walker of the 1970s had opinions…

“…Ayn Rand will forever be incompatible with black people.”

The Alice Walker of the 1980s had awareness (and a HUGE crush on Quincy Jones)…

“I finally admitted to myself how hurt and frustrated I am by some of the more vicious reviews. I find the unfairness particularly hard to bear. Mostly white male critics who obviously don’t understand that my metaphysics includes them even though theirs has never included me.”

The Alice Walker of the 1990s had insight…

“Each time I vaguely think of turning on the white man’s voice—radio or t.v.—I think Nah. What a joy to inhabit the world without its fake joviality, its treacherous (canned) laughter. Its relentless effort to make violence normal. Its hatred & fear of everyone & everything. Its sugary poison.”

This intimate glimpse into Alice Walker’s existence spans but thirty five years, 1965 - 2000. Seeing as how this complex and vivacious spirt is happily still with us, ‘Alice Part Two’ is undoubtedly already in the works. I, for one, can’t wait.

“…what will America look like when—if ever—it is united and happy!? I will not live to see that day, but the dream of it must be planted…”
Profile Image for LiteraryMarie.
599 reviews51 followers
April 10, 2022
What if you had the opportunity to read fifty (50) years worth of sixty-five (65) journals and notebooks from a Pulitzer Prize-winning author? Well you WILL in exactly one week!

For the first time ever, the edited journals of Alice Walker are gathered like blossoms for your reading pleasure. Journal entries from 1965-2000 reflect her complex, passionate, intimate details of her life as an award-winning author, artist, writer, human rights activist, women's advocate, friend, daughter, lover, wife, mother and citizen.

An array of events are shared with such great detail as if they happened yesterday. She explores how it felt to march in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, her interracial marriage in the South, the trials and triumphs of being a Black woman, enduring relationships both erotic and toxic, her bond with only daughter, the making of The Color Purple and insight into each decade.

Listen...I enjoyed Gathering Blossoms Under Fire more than any fiction she ever wrote. Classics included! It is something about her open thoughts, vulnerable prose, nonjudgmental observations and perception of life that was addicting to read. It kept me interested throughout and even prompted my own journal entries when it came to financial goals/savings. (Yes, she even shared personal budget entries!)

The format of Gathering Blossoms Under Fire is genius! Organized by decade, it is easy to follow and witness her personal growth. Major social issues are addressed and her opinion is not minced. It feels like a gift to read the diary of a literary legend. I dare not spoil its contents so let me stop this review here. Bookhearts, please know The Journals of Alice Walker is recommended to all Bookhearts that appreciate the work of Great Black American novelists.

Happy Early Pub Day, Alice Walker! Gathering Blossoms Under Fire will be available Tuesday, April 12.

Profile Image for Amethyst.
218 reviews9 followers
February 18, 2022
“The evil in the world continues to astound, but so does the courage of the human spirit to express itself at even higher levels of compassion & hope. This keeps us going, though exhaustion is a constant companion.”

Going into these journals, I had a narrow understanding of who Alice Walker is. I’d known about her success with The Color Purple, her partial blindness due to a childhood accident, and her work to preserve Zora Neale Hurston’s legacy. I now have a more intimate understanding of the prolific writer and womanist that she is.

These journal entries are remarkable – 560 pages that span the 60s to the 2000s, capturing her thoughts on relationships and marriage, motherhood, career and finances, her body, friendships, activism, spirituality, and (bi)sexuality. She reveals an incredible amount of detail about her life: Her insecurities, disappointments, how her views, body, and relationships evolved (including with her mother, ex-husband, and daughter). Walker wrote a great deal about the makings of The Color Purple, and fans of it may appreciate learning about development of the storyline and characters. She also spent time exposing the cruelty of FGM after spending time in Africa for TCP. She critiques other writers and notes their impact on her in life and death. Was surprised to see her open up about her crush on Quincy Jones and (formerly private) relationship with Tracy Chapman.

Appreciate learning that “And of course, there will be a volume two.” and look forward to reading about her life over the last 20+ years.

Many thanks to Alice Walker, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for the opportunity to review an early copy in exchange for an honest review before its release on April 12, 2022.
Profile Image for Jess˚*•̩̩͙✩•̩̩͙*˚.
65 reviews4 followers
October 28, 2022
I give myself 5 stars for actually getting through this book! I really enjoyed reading AW's thoughts on life and aging, although the last decade wasn't as reflective and literary as the first three parts. When reading, it felt that AW didn't want the reader to like her but to understand her as a black bisexual woman, and as a flawed human being interacting with other flawed human beings. Her journals bring amazing insight to society and culture from the 60-90's, and it was amazing to read about how full her life was of both tragedy and success.
Profile Image for Thelma.
727 reviews32 followers
May 28, 2022
Man This book was Looong and gooood!

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire is the story of the journals of Alice Walker we get to know and learn more about her life during that period. there were many things I didn't know about Alice and this book really made me learn and understand more about her.

She is an amazing woman, amazing to a level that I can easily compare her with many of the strong feminist archetypes we have like Frida Khalo and Joan of arc, she always expelled strength and intelligence that's how I felt by reading her book, she is a woman with so much love and kindness to give but I feel like many took advantage of this.

Her relationships were always like a roller coaster, I felt like at times I couldn't keep up with what mood she was going to show for the next chapter but still, you could always feel through the pages the amount of power and strength she has.

Alice Walker, a famous writer whose famous novel the color of purple was made into a famous movie (i know I already wrote too many famous) with many great artists like Ophra and Whoopie Goldberg we get to relive all those years through the pages of Gathering Blossoms, her loves, her disappointments, her friendships, her family drama, and joys, her ups, and downs, the need or the feeling of comfort she felt whenever she bought a house.

Gathering Blossoms will take you through Alice's daily life, her love for Quincy, and Tracy, and the many heartaches she had during her marriage and after that with her lovers. she also describes the relationship with her daughter Rebbeca, they constantly had ups and downs, I felt like Rebbeca kept the blame for so long but hey everybody digests things differently, but still, I always felt like she was coming back to the same story even if we already read she was having a good relationship with Alice a few chapters later the drama will start all over again.

I cried with Alice, I laugh and also got angry so many characters were really at times very immature, I kept getting angry with Mel a lot, the way he treated Rebecca once he got a "new" partner was terrible I really dislike him so much when he was acting like that.

The part that I really enjoyed so much was the times she spend in Mexico, in the Careyes house, I love the way she describes her love for the country.

I feel like my review doesn't say enough about how wonderful this book is, I wish I could express more about it but this always happens whenever I love a book I don't have enough words to say what I really want to say.

Overall, I really enjoyed getting to know more about this beautiful woman, her talents, her dreams, her taste and likes, her kindness, and the way she always embraced everybody it was like you always felt welcome by her.

Thank you, Alice, for your journals for letting us see a piece of your heart, you're a beautiful soulful queen.

Thank you, NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy of Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker 1965-2000 in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Glen Venezio.
6 reviews2 followers
October 26, 2022
I was in touch for years with Valerie Boyd, who edited this book with her dear friend Alice Walker. Sadly, Valerie passed away in February, just before her many years long labor of love's publication date. Instead of a traditional review, I want to share some of the comments I made to Valerie while I was reading an advance copy of the book:

".......... I love that she sort of self- references THIS book or self-prophecies it in a way, talking about Anais Nin's journals at one point and wanting to describe things better and elaborate more, knowing that others may be reading it all someday, the someday has come, a magical moment sandwiched in between two time points, almost as if the Alice of today can somehow send back messages of hope and encouragement to her earlier self and say "hang in there, keep going........" a fabulous book ........ "

"...... her experiences are indeed universal for the most part, excepting maybe just her experience with fame etc."

"The reality is that she is famous, with whatever that implies in our strange world today.............. The book is so.fine Valerie, it was a bit how I imagined it would be, and a bit very different from my expectations of what I would.find there, yet breathtaking AS IT IS regardless of what people expect or.do.not expect to find there. My only wish was that it could be longer or complete even, yet I.know that is not.possible at this point..........the fact that I want to keep.going, to.read more, is testimony enough in a way....... we live in such a perceptually programmed world, and it is important that people.be JOLTED even.by what they find in Alice's viewpoint , she is not.only an elder, but strikingly a very old soul, someone who lives a completely.normal.life as we all do, with.all the ups and downs inherent in that, yet in another fashion, her work is something.like a lighthouse, a beacon from the FUTURE or.from a wiser sort of.inner world, that calls back.to the present.time, whispering reminders of who.we really are and what path can get us back.there...........that is what is in between the lines in all the work of hers, and especially in.the journals, but one who has resistance to that or.zero awareness of.it, will only see hot tubs and the therapist and steamy love affairs, they cannot sense the underneath that is there, at times so obviously."

"Even the bitchy sarcastic type of entries are great and so endearing and funny.....I love the entry about editor Kate Medina with her "you betcha" white peopleness thing, and also how at one point she wrote that Rebecca talks too.much and gets on her nerves..............real and endearing and laugh out loud funny really...... wonderful.....no one can accuse you of hagiography!!!"


Obviously, I really loved the book and am.sorry Valerie did not have the chance to go.out.into the world and promote it alongside Alice, as they had planned.........I.am grateful I.got to.share my thoughts on the book with Valerie before she passed, and I hope my thoughts that I shared with her made up a type of review, for you, the potential reader.
26 reviews4 followers
October 3, 2022
I considered myself extremely lucky to win this book, which I received today. I am looking forward to reading it and can't wait to finish. Thank you so much!!
Profile Image for Shernell.
89 reviews43 followers
September 11, 2022
I HAVE AN ARC! MY LIFE IS COMPLETE! Review coming in February!!!
Profile Image for Gina.
171 reviews
March 19, 2023
I liked the parts about her creative process in forming The Color Purple. I also appreciated her comments about the struggles of professional Black women and the "haters" who showed up when she earned success. I was disappointed by her lack of contentment with anything in her life. The repetition of this restlessness made the book a little longer and slower.
487 reviews
May 3, 2022
Alice Walker's books make for much better reading than her journals. I was bored reading about her periods and inability to make up her mind about Mel and Robert. The book was too long.
Profile Image for La’Saundra Anderson.
35 reviews2 followers
August 6, 2022
As soon as I found out that Alice Walker had published a volume of her journals, I immediately bought it. I was eager to read about the time surrounding The Color Purple's release and when I finally arrived at the point in her journals, I so appreciated reading about what those characters meant to her and how she felt about publishing, her Pulitzer Prize, and the movie release as well.

Still, what I annotated the most were passages where she spoke about love, relationships, and sexuality. In journal writing, one of the goals should be honesty - still I was struck by how honest and even apologetic Walker was. I admire those qualities so much. She seems like a woman very much secure with herself and her place in the world. It's such an honor and even an intimate experience to be able to read someone's private thoughts and musings, and Walker's thoughts about motherhood, spirituality, and solitude are still heavily on my mind.

I'm so glad I took my time reading this. And I'm even more thankful that another volume of Alice Walker's journals is forthcoming.
41 reviews
January 2, 2022
I enjoyed this book because this a journal written with heart and soul. Some authors write books “assuming” what a person was thinking at the time and why they acted in particular ways. There is no guessing between the lines. This journal is bold and heartfelt.

Alice Walker reflects on everything and everyone in her life. Much of what she writes reminds me of what I heard on the news more than 50 years ago and what the country went through during my teenage years.

1968 “…to me there are no white people only white minds”. I remember thinking things would change, and sadly they haven’t.

In the 70s she writes of emotions: sadness, joy, anger, and sexual feelings. She expresses in words we can all understand in our coming of age; the ways we carry our early lives into our adult lives.

During the 80s she writes of reconciliations, strong feelings for others in her life, and coping with struggles in relationships.

Her life is full of acquaintances and close relationships with writers and poets, singers, directors, and movie stars, politicians and world leaders; all names we recognize in history. I find it interesting how much input she had in all the workings of ‘The Color Purple’. She expressed the importance of who the actors were, the music used, and writing the screenplay. At the same time she has many close family relationship issues to deal with.

With her success come feelings of having too much. She is also frustrated with reviews and her reactions to those. She becomes tired of silly questions from journalists. “She spoke as if black women writers only write about “the black situation” which, after all, is itself becoming more & more everybody’s.”

In the 90s she falls in love with a singer feeling as though he has written songs which are addressed to her. At this point I took a break reading the book and watched a documentary about the person she is writing about.

“Dream, Dec. 1990”
“I could not bear to leave this dream out of the book! In fact, what will America look like when—if ever—it is united and happy?”
Something to ponder even today in 2022. In her journal she relays her strife growing up in the South, communal living with hippies, and her wealth from successes. The book covers important life lessons, moments of creation, imagination, and savored moments with relatives, dear friends, and innermost relationships. ‘Gathering Blossoms Under Fire’ should be on your to-read list for 2022.
Profile Image for Sarah Joyce Bryant.
68 reviews7 followers
February 28, 2022
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from reading Alice Walker’s journal entries. I think, sometimes, we have a utopian view of our literary loves and believe them to come out of the womb as glorious writers with no struggle with how to write, what to write, how to find time to write, and so on and so on. Maybe it’s a reflection of what we hope for ourselves…the no struggle writing dreamworld. Reading Alice Walker’s journals grounded me in the reality of a writer’s life, but also in a woman’s life, one who dares to defy convention as a woman of color, as a mother, as a wife, and as an artist. Throughout the pages, I could feel the tension between what convention demanded of her and what her soul required in order for her to survive, not just as an artist, but as a living being in this physical world. There is just so much within these pages that spoke to me, but most prominent was how Ms. Walker continued to choose herself despite how difficult it was to do so; how shaped her life on her terms. She did not say “I cannot do this” when coming up against a racist, sexist culture, but instead did what needed to be done. She learned how to be financially secure one step at a time while bringing into the physical world the dreams she had for herself. I appreciated the inclusion of the struggle with relationships, the exploration of sexuality on her own terms, and the difficulties that being financially wealthy can bring to a person. Ms. Walker pulled back the curtain, dispelled the facade, and said “here’s my human experience in all its messy, glorious ups and downs, curves and cliffs,” and I’m so glad that she did.
264 reviews
January 17, 2023
A person’s diaries are simultaneously intensely personal, and an attempt to be known. You are recording the minutiae of your days, your innermost thoughts and your uncensored feelings. Committing these things to paper is often a private time of reflection, but at the same time, the act of recording these things carries with it an acknowledgment that they may someday be read by another.

To publish one’s edited journals in one’s lifetime, as Alice Walker did, takes a degree of courage and I respect her for that. The span of years (1960’s-2000ish) covered in these journals are, for me, contemporary and interesting.

I give this book only three stars merely for the fact that I didn’t enjoy reading it very much. This was partly due to my expectations. I had hoped for more reflections on Walker’s writing process, etc, but this was more day-to-day stuff. I felt that it could have used some more editing of the mundane, but again, it is a diary.

You do get a sense of Walker’s lifeview through the journals:

God: She grows from proclaimed atheistic views in her 20s, to a spirituality in her 50’s. Near the end of the book, she seems to be experimenting with drugs designed for spiritual awakening and her writings seem stoned and nonsensical to me.

Race: She often appears blatantly racist to me, something she does not believe that she can be. But she expresses contempt for her white audiences, judgement for “mulattos,” (despite the fact that she has a mixed race child), and makes a lot of generalizations. She calls her mother a colorist and was wounded by some of the ways that her mom expressed her thoughts about skin color.

Depression: A lifelong struggle, something she fights against constantly. She views suicide as a basic human right, and so views life as a choice to live rather than a choice to die.

Money: never stops worrying that she will run out, even while she is wealthy and established, owning multiple homes. She is alternately stingy, and easily taken advantage of.

Marriage/sexuality: Quite the mess here, she often seems to be her own worst enemy. She often seems contemptuous of her partners. She struggles with the simultaneous desire to be independent and to be supported, nurtured and cared for. She seems selfish in many of her relationships to me. She is married, divorced, in a long-term open relationship with a man, obsessed for several years with Quincy Jones, then in a few successive relationships with women. Many of her lovers seem like users to me, or people who are not equal to Alice in some way in her own mind.

Parenting: Alice treats her daughter as she treats her lovers…intense love alternating with periods of separation. This seems to be what Alice needs, but it leaves Rebecca with feelings of abandonment. They are estranged for a period of time, but they work it out.

Some wisdom from Alice, on various topics, that I enjoyed:

“Friendship is a matter of choice, a commitment to love another person who is unlike you, unrelated to you in any way.” -Alice Walker

“I’m afraid I saw more of what is not there than what is there, and have been mourning the characters & events that were lost in the editing or never attempted from the book. There were scenes I didn’t like, but many that I loved. But in order to know what I truly feel about The Color Purple film I’ll have to see it again, perhaps many times, when I am able to be more open to what it is rather than grieving over what it is not.”

“And over the years in my life & in my work, I’ve struggled with this conflict: how to love a dictator & a torturer. It wasn’t until I saw the movie many times that I fully realized I had been longing & needing to be able to love my grandfather even as he was when he did the worst things”

“All the houses in the world can’t make you happy if they’re empty.”

“Together we can dream & build an America & a world where everybody writes & everybody reads & everybody paints & everybody makes music & nobody is afraid.”

“Adversity often makes us know what we believe. That is, what we both believe and will stick to.”

“And I realize this is, to me, the best kind of writing—the writing which seems to be simply the writing down of a story overheard.”

“Wonder if I’ll ever learn, in my body, that it is the anticipation of awfulness that is awful.”


As long as I love life
and as long as life continues
to hurt me with its cruelty
its indifference and its beauty
I will write poems.

Where once I thought
I was ugly
I now perceive myself
to be
a woman to fit my needs
my feet no larger
than my shoe.


Whoever you are
Whatever you are
Start with tha
Whether salt of
The earth
Or only white

Profile Image for Michelle Kidwell.
Author 39 books74 followers
February 21, 2022
Gathering Blossoms Under Fire
The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965–2000
by Alice Walker
Pub Date 12 Apr 2022
Simon & Schuster
Biographies & Memoirs | Nonfiction (Adult)

I am reviewing a copy of Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965-2000

I was more than excited, when I was accepted as a reviewer through Netgalley And Simon and Schuster for Gathering Blossoms Under Fire, and I can say I was not disappointed, where I can’t say I agreed with every aspect of the journals, I can say I enjoyed the book immensely, and read it over a period of several days, drawn into the life o this remarkably talented woman, and writer.

For the first time we get an intimate look into Alice Walker’s life from the period of 1965-2000 through her journals. The critically claimed author of A Color Purple gives us an intimate look into her thoughts and feelings over different aspects of her life, her thoughts, and her feelings as a woman, a writer, an African American as well as a wife, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a sister, a friend, a citizen of the world.

In a singular voice these journals allow us to get an understanding of her thoughts and feelings as she explores an astonishing array of events, she took part in from marching with the other foot soldiers of the a wife, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a sister, a friend, a citizen of the world.

I give Gathering Blossoms Under Fire five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
Profile Image for Shana.
68 reviews2 followers
November 7, 2022
Alice Walker introduced me to the idea of womanism my freshman year in college, and changed the way I saw the world forever. She brought Zora Neale Hurston back from an unmarked grave into publication, and gave me my favorite novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. I don't even have words for what she does with words as a writer. I picked up this collection of her journals mostly to honor that legacy in my life, but once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. To see a woman/writer/activist's evolution is amazing. To read her inner thoughts, her struggles with self-doubt, motherhood, money, petty jealousies and big dreams, how to love real people in real life, how to balance the need for connection with the need for solitude, to see her make bad choices and big decisions and find her way through - is so powerful. Really grateful for this.
Profile Image for Kirsty Le Dain.
159 reviews
May 14, 2022
An amazing documentation of the life, loves and longings of Alice Walker!

Initially I feel the book did not offer as much context about Walker’s life as I may have wanted, but as the journals continued to develop- so too did my understandings of Walker’s journaling style. That being said - I may now have to go off and read a biography of Walker also!

I have never felt I have so clearly been given a view into the life of an artist and icon - allowed to see her love and her love fail, allowed to see her contradict herself and be vulnerable. A truly amazing compilation.
Profile Image for Denise Billings.
200 reviews9 followers
February 9, 2023
Alice Walker's journal entries are numerous, because she is a writer who writes all of the time. This book is a blessing to writers and her fans. It covers 1965 - 2000 and didn't want it to end. I follow her blog now, AliceWalkersGarden.com.
Profile Image for Jeff Scott.
688 reviews61 followers
June 6, 2023
Alice Walker has lived a storied life. While one can write a biography on aspects of her life we find significant, being able to enter her mind via journal is illuminating. We find her struggling during the Civil Rights Movement, insisting on living in the South despite its hardships. We see her create The Color Purple as well as her incredulity at winning the Pulitzer (she didn't know there was a Pulitzer Prize for fiction and thought it was a joke). We see her at peace with her accomplishments. 

Profile Image for Mary Angel.
93 reviews6 followers
February 25, 2022
Alice Walker has long been in my top two list of favorite authors. Her writing deeply resonates with me on a personal level. I am grateful that she has allowed her journals to be published and devoured every word. It was fascinating to be able to read her innermost thoughts especially during very turbulent timed in this country. Many thanks to Simon & Shuster and NetGalley for the ARC..
Profile Image for luxie ♡.
43 reviews1 follower
April 11, 2022
Alice Walker’s journals are an awe-inspiring collection. They range from her early twenties all the way into her fifties, and you get the chance to follow along her whole adult life, a rare written journey. Starting in 1965 and ending in 2000 the world around her changes dramatically, but my favorite part was how her focus shifted inwards.

In her younger years she was more concerned about world issues and politics, but as she ages she focuses much more on personal relationships, on what’s best for herself, and connecting with nature. She learns lessons and thinks through situations through her writing, and another cool aspect was seeing her develop ideas for future published works. I really enjoyed this journal and I believe anyone who wishes to be a successful writer would enjoy reading Alice Walker’s journals.

Thank you to the publisher Simon and Schuster for providing an eARC of this book via NetGalley for review.
Profile Image for Diane Bateman.
145 reviews1 follower
October 27, 2021
I liked how well this book was written . It has a lot of human right issues in this book .
Profile Image for Vicky Hunt.
826 reviews53 followers
September 28, 2022
'Let Us Gather Blossoms Under Fire'

"They believe, clearly, that one should treat one's dog like a n*****. Poor us. How we pass the cruelty on." (Alice commenting on how she treats her dog like a member of the family.)

Alice Walker is a remarkable person. As such, I was happy to find her journals released this year. This book covers the time period from 1965-2000. The hardback dust jacket cover photo of a young Alice is mirrored by an almost reflection on the back side of a mature Alice; both images in almost time-lapse quality. (I'm very guilty of approving of a book by its cover. But, never that alone.) Ms. Walker's politics and ideology cover a wide spectrum, as with all of us. While I agree with many of her ideas, others are distant from me. But, without reservation, I see many things that make her a great character in the history of our country. Her work is well worth reading. The only thing missing from this book is her autograph on the inside cover.

"...there is so much difference between the people and their governments that one cannot any longer hate indiscriminately."

It is fashionable in many circles to group humans into little categories. As with all fashions, cliquishness comes and goes in and out of style. Sometimes even at funerals people are known to demand the removal of family members in some cases, and lock the funeral home doors in other cases. This 'cancel culture' is pervasive in society today and crosses generations... probably always has. But, common sense would tell us (if we unbound and ungagged him) that people do not fit neatly into any stereotypes.

"A purposeful inclination towards clanishness... even as Harriett Tubman we must free each other."

Alice speaks of family, the civil rights struggle, her writing, and the many people she has known. She speaks of the Kennedys, Richard Nixon, Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, Langston Hughes, and many other key people in the world and here in our country. She has her heart and her mind on what it means to be an American, and what it means to live in the South. And, she works from her own beliefs of right and wrong. One example is when she refused to join Mrs. Bush's campaign on literacy, and suggested the money should go to feed children before teaching them to read. That, to me is poignant and needed to be said, seeing that it is one thing to believe in right to life, but another to enact policies friendly to feeding the children of unwed mothers and fathers. These ideas are not partisan. They are matters of life and death. Any other answer is a lie.

I learned that Alice was shot with a bee bee gun as a small child by her brother, making her blind in one eye. I actually had a similar experience as a small child, but I was more fortunate. The son of a family friend was shooting birds, and threatened me with the gun. Even though he was older than me, I thought he knew he could not under any circumstances shoot a person. But, he did, hitting me between the eyes and leaving a little mark. I suppose intimidation is not so uncommon. We are not so different, wherever we live.

I enjoyed reading this nice volume, and recommend it for anyone looking for memoirs of great people. If you've read any of her books, you are sure to enjoy this. And, if not, then you're sure to learn a bit about her work here. The journals are interlaced with commentary from the editor.
Profile Image for Lauren | TransportedLFL.
673 reviews19 followers
April 30, 2022
Alice Walker donated all of her papers to Emory University, but they are embargoed from research and the public until 2040. So this volume is a special early look at her journals, including selected entries from 1965 to 2000.

The journal entries were organized chronologically (even when they came from separate journals), and the book incorporates occasional pictures or drawings from the journals. I was very pleased with the amount of editorializing. The footnotes included as much background detail as I needed to add context without breaking the flow of the journals. They tell who the people being discussed are and when various of Alice Walker's books were released.

Her journals incorporate a mix of the personal and the political and a reminder that the two are forever intertwined. For instance, she records her response to the deaths of Langston Hughes and Martin Luther King, Jr. As her private journals, they equally discuss the challenges of motherhood, her ambivalent feelings toward marriage, and her views of full sexuality.

For me, I was most interested in her professional life, her reflection on her own works and their reception, her feelings about the state of the world, and her analysis of other authors. I found some of the depictions of her sex life distracting. But they are part of the whole that sheds light on who she was as she wrote. And reading her thoughts about her own writing and her process is such a privilege.

Thank you to @BookClubFavorites #BookClubFavorites Simon and Schuster for this free book. These opinions are my own.

TW: suicidal ideation
Profile Image for Amanda Rosso.
200 reviews15 followers
July 5, 2022
Writer, poet, essayist and activist Alice Walker's selected diaries recount several decades of her memorable life.
But what mostly impresses of this selection of memories is not the Pulitzer Prize or the literary success - although it's very much present - but the mundane skirmishes, the daily appreciations, the idiosyncrasies of a complex, extraordinary and ordinary woman, her depression, her joyful remarks, her meditation, her lovers and friends, her commitment to the struggle as much as her devotion to her gardens, the obsessions with buying houses and the exploration of her spirituality later in life.

Through her eyes we get to explore some of the most turbulent decades of the 20th century, but also breathtaking sunsets, cosy afternoons, international travels as much as grocery shopping, heartaches and glorious love-making.
Nothing could be left out and yet something had to go, and to the care and dedication that editor Valerie Boyd (may she rest in power) put into this work goes my most grateful acclaim, because she was able to illuminate those pages with grace and brilliance, and her collaboration with Alice Walker herself offers the readers an extraordinarily intimate, playful, complex and layered portrait of a writer, a woman, a mother, a lover, a reader, a daughter and wife, an ex wife, a partner, a sister in arms, an intellectual, a girl and an older lady, an observer and a storyteller, a seeker and a teacher.
April 11, 2022
Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965 - 2000


To have access into the intimate thoughts of a writer such as Alice Walker is a gift. She takes us on a journey that covers everything from relationships whether they be friends, lovers, husbands, other writers, motherhood, activism, sexuality in many forms, her body and spirituality. As the journals span 35 years, her views evolve in great detail on the page. She lays herself bare for all to see, the good, the bad, the insecure. She takes us on her travels. Exposes us to world’s we may not have seen, injustices we may not have known.

For those who only know Alice Walker for writing the Color Purple, they will be treated to plenty of insights into the development of the characters and storyline.

Walker is a woman of many layers, learning, growing, ever evolving. It is the story of a life still being written. I for one am grateful she is still alive and look forward to the second volume of Journals.

Thank you NetGalley, Simon & Schuster and Alice Walker for this ARC in exchanging for my honest review.

@NetGalley @simonandschuster

#NetGalley #GatheringBlossomsUnderFire #journal #memoir
Profile Image for Nicola Pierce.
Author 18 books70 followers
May 6, 2022
Writers diaries and memoirs are by far my most favourite thing to read and this compelling collection of Alice Walker's journals were no exception. I absolutely loved this book even when the roller-coaster dissection of her relationships went on for pages and pages - and pages again. We see the mood swings and her mind changing about a person and a situation before, suddenly, changing back again. They provide a wondrous insight into the life of a hugely successful and famous writer and I found them inspirational even as I also understood that AW, like the rest of us, is far from perfect. I commend her honesty and bravery in including plenty that show up her flaws, her impatience and utter self-absorption which is, in fairness, what you'd expect from any successful writer. And there is to be a second volume - she left that wonderful news for the postscript. Can't wait to read it! The only thing I will say is that I would have loved a photo section showing off of all her houses and various writing rooms. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Diane.
489 reviews20 followers
September 23, 2022
After I heard a talk by Alice Walker at the Mississippi Book Festival in August 2022, I decided to listen to the journals. Our library had the CD set, I listened on my way to and from Georgia to visit Kelly. I feel that Alice really came alive for me as I heard the narrator read the journals. There was also a person who explained the names and places that the listener might not be familiar with. I have read only the journals and The Color Purple, but I plan to go to the library and read all of her work. The language in the journals is so poetic; I had not realized that she wrote poetry also. I also loved hearing about her daughter, her husband, her lovers, and the many friends she had.
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