scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
I'm a bit surprised that I managed to obtain an English degree without being assigned to read Their Eyes Were Watching God, because I can see why it's such a major American novel.
In the afterword written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., he mentions that Hurston saw her first novel (written a few years before this one) as "a manifesto against the 'arrogance' of whites assuming that 'black lives are only defensive reactions to white actions.'" This book also seems to avoid the reactionary point of view, and tries to simply capture black culture and people as they were, without requiring a "contrast" of white characters, unlike some of the other novels by black authors from the same period (a few of which I actually was assigned in college).
Hurston used vernacular speech in the dialog here, which for me meant it took a little longer to read, but sometimes that's a good thing. I loved the flow of the writing, and there were a few moments of humor as well. Toward the end of the story, the main characters are involved in a hurricane, which was a bit of deja vu to read during hurricane season last year when Florida had just been hit by Irma -- but this is one section where the descriptions are the best, and contains the title line.
To be honest, I didn't find Janie Crawford that sympathetic of a character in the beginning of the story, although the first page or so of the novel is a gem all on its own. But as the chapters passed and Janie and the scenery around her became more developed, I appreciated more the glimpse into this particular time and place, the way the story pulled me in, and the lyrical (as it has oft been described) style that is employed in so much of the narrative. The ending of the story navigated so well between heartbreak and determination, and kept me up past my bedtime (so in other words, I expected to like it a little but ended up liking it a lot).
Author: Zora Neale Hurston
Content Advisory: A few swear words, a violent scene at the end (involving a gun) as well as a few instances and mentions of domestic violence, and a couple non-explicit sexual scenes.