First off, confession time: it has taken me over 30 years to pick up The Grapes of Wrath. Yes, I was a Book-Boo who never read TGoW. No matter how many people hyped it as a “THE American classic” and “required reading for all readers;” for some reason I always struggled to convince myself to read an epic about the Great Depression. Girl, it’s like watching Schindler’s List, who’s ever in the mood to watch that? Like, I know it’s good but that isn’t enough to make me choose it! But something about Summer 2018 (maybe the daily onslaught of appalling headlines and the nightmarish state of our current government) made me finally say, “YES! Bring it on, honey! A little Great Depression would pair perfectly with my current depression!”
And girl, am I glad I finally took the plunge. It is such a compelling and completely horrifying story, told in a simple and straightforward way. By now y’all know the plot so I won’t even bother with a synopsis besides saying when something bad happens not to worry because something worse is coming soon! I originally thought that alternating between the narrative chapters and the more poetic vignettes would detract from the flow of the novel, but I ended up loving this structure. It created a pause, forcing the reader to pull back from the intimate details of the Joad Family to view the greater situation.
I found myself at times both shocked by the evils of humanity as wells as inspired by the powerful will to survive that coursed through the pages of this book. I can already tell that the characters and situations will stick with me long after I move on to other books. One doesn’t simply forget Rosasharn or Jim Casey or the government camp or the peach farm or the ending! Overall, it was a very human story that felt applicable even nearly 80 years after it was first published. At times daunting in it’s sheer emotional weight, by half way through the book I could not put it down. I know I will gladly revisit TGoW again in my life, but hopefully it won’t take me another 30 years.
- Title: The Grapes of Wrath
- Author: John Steinbeck
- Published: April 14, 1939
- Genre: Classic, Fiction, Historical Fiction
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * * *