“Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.”
Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.
This was a difficult book to read. First, the style is difficult. Celie’s letters are written as an uneducated woman who can barely write would write: full of grammatical errors and misspellings. Normally, this would make me crazy, but it works in this instance because you get a very good sense of how Celie would speak.
The story is difficult, too. Celie goes through traumatic event after traumatic event. Her father rapes her and takes away her two babies. When he starts making the same moves towards her sister, Celie does everything she can to protect her. Then Celie gets married off to a man who beats her. No one is vaguely nice to her, until she meets Shug (her husband’s mistress), who teaches her to love herself and intercedes with Celie’s husband to make him treat her well.
It’s a difficult book, but worth reading. Celie is a woman who has everything thrown at her and manages to carry on regardless. Her love for her sister and her children kept her going.