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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath

The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized-and sometimes outraged-millions of readers

The Grapes of Wrath summed up its era in the way that Uncle Tom's Cabin had summed up the years of slavery before the Civil War. At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck's fictional chronicle of the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s is perhaps the most American of American classics.

Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are driven off their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots, Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its insistence on human dignity.

Another book group choice that I openly groaned about at first.  I have only read one other of this authors books, "Of Mice and Men", and while I loved that book (and the film) I thought that this book would be a painful struggle to get through.

I was right about it being a struggle to read and almost gave up at page 105.  However, I am glad that I kept on reading to the end.  It is a book that has many different facets to it and will make a thoroughly interesting discussion for a book group.   

The story is a hard one to read because it is just still too real in today's society, where there is enough for everyone but the rich would rather destroy it than distribute it to the needy.  Now I am not a Socialist by any description but this book certainly did make me think strong and hard about it.  I am looking forward to discussing this aspect of the book with my Russian friend who was brought up in the most extreme end of the socialist scale in Russia.

The writing style was varied throughout the book.  Some parts of it were very descriptive and emotional and really drew me into the feelings of the characters while there were whole chapters that I thought were just too wordy and did not add significantly to the book as a whole.  I, initially, struggled with the vernacular of the migrants on the road but eventually got used to their way of speaking and, in fact, it made it feel more real to me and put me beside them in their lives.

The ending was intense and somewhat shocking to me but it did give me back some hope in the goodness of humans that had been stripped from me by the rest of the book.

4 out of 5 with one star deducted because it was a struggle and could not be described as an enjoyable read and would not be for everyone.  I would suggest starting with "Of Mice and Men" if you have not read any of this authors works before as I think this book would put you off reading any of his other books.  However, put it on your list of books to read before you die.

Why is it usually those that have nothing that will give everything to help a fellow person!  And that is my closing thought.

ps.  I couldn't resist this picture from Facebook!
Photo: http://humortrain.com/

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