Justin's Reviews > Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
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's review
Jun 04, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 10-best-books-read-in-2012

I picked this book up secondhand because I had just a vague sense of familiarity with the title. When I finally got around to reading it, it presented not only a great story, but also a fascinating backstory.

The plot centers around Janie, an African-American woman in 1930s/40s Florida, who at a young age is married off to an unsatisfying man, then runs away with another who ultimately becomes too big for his britches (and her liking) and finally settles down with a young layabout named Tea Cake. As Hurston tells Janie's tale, she tells it through the vernacular of blacks in the South at the time. It's a language that's both beautiful and also occasionally hard to understand.

Through reading the foreword by Mary Hellen Washington and the afterword by Henry Louis Gates Jr, I discovered that the story of the book itself – languished in virtual obscurity for nearly 30 years before being rediscovered – and of Zora Neale Hurston were also quite interesting. I'm glad though, that I read the novel itself first, as it allowed me to react to the story on its own rather than bring in any preconceived notions.

It turned out there was much more to Their Eyes Were Watching God than just a familiar-sounding title. It's a book that will stay with me for awhile.

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